Thu, May 23, 2013 - Page 18 News List

Focus on prevention in English soccer policing

NY Times News Service, LONDON

They can meet trainloads of supporters at train and subway stations, and escort them to the match.

In extreme situations, they can put the away fans in a “bubble,” meaning they are under guard from the moment they leave their hometowns to the moment they return. This happened recently in a match between Hull City and Huddersfield Town, where the only way for the away Hull fans to get tickets was to travel on special buses under tight supervision.

After the match, they were escorted back to the buses and driven back to Hull.

The tough approach has been credited with helping change the game’s tone and reputation, but fans’ groups say they often feel patronized and made to suffer for the sins of the few.

“The police have plenty of powers without having to use draconian powers like carting people around in convoys,” said Steve Powell, director of policy and campaigns for the Football Supporters’ Federation. “We are totally against violence. What we don’t want is the peaceful majority being criminalized just for being football supporters.”

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