Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, spent Saturday, 1 October with South Yorkshire police officers as they policed the football match between Rotherham United and Newcastle United at the New York Stadium.
Accompanying the gold commander for the day, Assistant Chief Constable Jason Harwin, Dr Billings met and talked with officers in Rotherham Town Centre and around the ground as they prepared to meet Newcastle fans arriving by coach and train.
On a visit to the New York Stadium he spoke to the Chairman of Rotherham United, Tony Stewart and Paul Douglas, Chief Operating Officer, about the cost of policing football matches. He also had the opportunity to hear how Rotherham United Community Sports Trust carry out some excellent work with communities in Eastwood on community cohesion projects and other initiatives throughout the borough.
The Commissioner then visited the police operation room in the ground and saw the extensive CCTV coverage of the stadium and surrounding areas. He also attended the police briefing that occurs in the ground just before the turnstiles open to supporters ahead of the match.
The day finished with a visit to Snig Hill in Sheffield where the police officers and staff work from Silver Command and spoke with the silver commander Chief Inspector Glen Suttenwood who had control over both the Rotherham United match and the Sheffield Wednesday fixture.
Dr Billings said: “The public probably have no idea of the sheer complexity of the planning and managing of these big public events.
“South Yorkshire has five major football teams and they are costly to police. The teams contribute towards the costs within and around the grounds but fans move about in numbers before and after matches and these have to be managed.
“We are fortunate in having some very experienced officers and good intelligence about fans from elsewhere. The police do a magnificent job in keeping the public safe.”
Dr Billings has spent much of the summer visiting various police and criminal justice centres – such as Doncaster prisons, the region’s counter-terrorism and serious and organised crime units.