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BTP chief constable speaks out over ‘disproportionate’ use of resources to police football fans

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The British Transport Police’s (BTP) chief constable has said that the force is using a ‘disproportionate amount of time’ chaperoning footballing fans around the country.

In the last three football seasons, BTP has spent almost £16 million on policing the journeys of fans to the 134 professional football teams in England, Scotland and Wales. Across that period, BTP recorded more than 2,300 football-related incidents.

Speaking out to mark the launch of a new Channel 4 documentary, Dispatches: Trouble on the Trains, chief constable Paul Crowther said a big part of BTP’s work is helping move large groups across the network to concerts, evenings out, and to and from work each day. But, he added, a ‘disproportionate amount of time’ is being spent  escorting adults who are ‘behaving badly, singing racist chants and being abusive to other passengers.’

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He said, ‘We have worked to establish what drives bad behaviour – as many of the people we come across would not behave in the same way during the week, they have full-time jobs and families. We found that it was a mix of tribalism, a feeling of anonymity within large groups and a “what goes on tour, stays on tour” mentality.

‘What this programme shows is that we are working on breaking down those beliefs. It shows that we will doggedly investigate, using CCTV on trains and platforms, body worn video, mobile phone footage and overt tactics to bring people to justice. We’ll do what we can to ensure they are prosecuted and, where necessary, ensure they can no longer go to football fixtures.

‘We also would like to see a consistent approach from football clubs to take collective responsibility for these fans and will continue working with the rail industry to penalise those who behave badly, and offer incentives for those who do not.

‘It’s not ok to chant racist slurs because you’re “out with the lads”, it’s not ok to be abusive because you had “one too many” and we’re going to make sure people know that.’

Dispatches: Trouble on the Trains will be aired on Channel 4 on Monday, November 6.

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