Po­lice chief in main role at soc­cer event

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - STU­ART GREER

APOLICE chief is to play a key role in crack­ing down on vi­o­lence at the Euro 2016 foot­ball tour­na­ment.

Mil­lions of foot­ball fans from across Europe are con­verg­ing on the coun­try to en­joy a feast of foot­ball fes­tiv­i­ties.

Vi­o­lence marred Eng­land’s first match against Russia in Mar­seilles with fans clash­ing both inside and out­side the sta­dium and the foot­ball as­so­ci­a­tions of both coun­tries be­ing warned over their sup­port­ers’ con­duct.

Work­ing away be­hind the scenes is Cheshire’s own As­sis­tant Chief Con­sta­ble Mark Roberts, who is the Na­tional Po­lice Chief’s Coun­cil ( NPCC) na­tional foot­ball polic­ing lead.

ACC Roberts is the po­lice ‘Gold’ com­man­der for the UK sup­port be­ing pro­vided to the French polic­ing oper­a­tion.

Dur­ing the com­ing weeks, ACC Roberts will split his time be­tween France and Lon­don, where the oper­a­tion room is at The Oval.

He said: “We’ve got 250,000 tick­ets al­lo­cated to the UK and fans will also be try­ing to source them in France, so we’re look­ing at up to 500,000 sup­porter trips from the UK – it’s a mas­sive oper­a­tion.

“There are around 2,000 peo­ple with ban­ning or­ders and, of those, 1,500 have been or­dered to sur­ren­der their pass­ports. We’re now just mop­ping those who haven’t, and those who try to travel will be stopped.”

One of the key roles Bri­tish of­fi­cers will play is to ad­vise the Bri­tish fans and French po­lice.

ACC Roberts said: “Sen- ior of­fi­cers and a num­ber of spot­ters are go­ing out to the venues to work with the French, to speak to Bri­tish sup­port­ers and to pass mes­sages.

“The be­hav­iour (of English and Bri­tish fans) over re­cent ma­jor tour­na­ments has ac­tu­ally been quite good.

“The ma­jor­ity of fans just want to have a good time and our aim is to keep them safe.

“There’s also the on­go­ing ter­ror threat but they’re putting a mas­sive se­cu­rity oper­a­tion in place to make sure ev­ery­one stays safe and we’re there to sup­port them in that aim.

“If any­one does mis­be­have we’ve got an in­ves­ti­ga­tion team on standby that will col­late footage and will seek to im­pose ban­ning or­ders on them as soon as they come back to this coun­try.”

Be­fore the tour­na­ment four foot­ball fans from Mac­cles­field – among 40 in Cheshire – who are banned from at­tend­ing matches were or­dered to sur­ren­der their pass­ports so they can’t leave the coun­try for Euro 2016.

●● Po­lice keep an eye on Eng­land fans in Mar­seilles. Inset: Cheshire’s As­sis­tant Chief Con­sta­ble Mark Roberts

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