Tuesday 27 September 2016

London Stadium owner working with police to ease West Ham security concerns

Published 13/09/2016 | 16:21

The Metropolitan Police says there is a
The Metropolitan Police says there is a "no satisfactory radio system" in place across West Ham's new London Stadium ground

London Stadium owner E20 is working with the Metropolitan Police to install the required radio system which will allow additional special policing services to be put in place for West Ham home matches, but insists there are no significant concerns over the current safety plans.

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West Ham have demanded a police presence at future matches following crowd trouble during Saturday's 4-2 Premier League defeat to Watford.

Ten fans were ejected from the London Stadium after fights broke out in the closing stages of the game, although the Met Police have stated there were no arrests.

West Ham, who moved from Upton Park into the converted London 2012 Olympic Stadium for the start of the new season, say they have specified ''essential important improvements'' to increase the numbers of those involved in stewarding and the security operation, as well as the level of training and experience they have in dealing with Premier League matches.

According to the club, E20 has confirmed that immediate action is being taken on the issues raised, including a ''more robust and secure line of segregation'' between home and away fans.

However, in a statement on Tuesday, Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Peter Terry, specialist crime & operations, said additional policing measures were not able to be implemented because of the lack of the Airwave radio system, which is used by the emergency services, and the problem was highlighted two years ago.

The London Stadium has hosted several events other than Premier League football, including 2015 Rugby World Cup matches and athletics competitions, which passed without major incidents among spectators.

A statement by E20/London Stadium 185 read: "The safety of the Stadium is paramount and all safety plans are agreed in advance by the police and if there were any significant concerns the Stadium would not be licensed.

"Saturday's match was a Category A, low risk game and the police were based at the (Olympic) Park Headquarters throughout to monitor events at the Stadium. They were deployed in the Stadium when required, however the main pressure on the stewarding during the game was from infighting among the West Ham United fans.

"A decision to install Airwave was reached in March 2016. The procurement and installation is the responsibility of the police we have fully co-operated and will facilitate any access they require to carry this out."

West Ham supporters fought among themselves and clashed with stewards and Watford fans in what was just the Irons' second Premier League game at their new home.

The club have warned they could hand life bans to any supporters found to have been involved in crowd trouble.

The Metropolitan Police, meanwhile, maintain progress cannot be made until the Airwave system is fully functional.

Deputy assistant commissioner Terry said: " The stadium operators are responsible for the safety and comfort of their customers and staff. This includes disorderly behaviour that has not reached the level of criminality.

"The Metropolitan Police Service will fulfil its legal responsibilities in relation to dealing with matters of criminality.

"The MPS is not able to provide special policing services at this time as it would normally, as there is no satisfactory radio system across the ground.

"This issue was highlighted to the stadium operators in October 2014 and the MPS has been in negotiation with stadium operators regarding the provision of Airwave radio inside the stadium.

"During this time the MPS had spoken to the stadium operators several times to highlight the consequences of not installing such a system.

"Until there is comprehensive Airwave radio coverage throughout the ground officers will not be routinely deployed within it under a special services agreement.

"The stadium operators have only very recently agreed to install a satisfactory radio system."

Press Association Sport understands the club is frustrated about the situation, but continues to encourage the relevant parties to implement any additional measures needed as soon as possible.

Behind the scenes, West Ham have also been working on identifying fans involved in crowd trouble as the club begin the process of issuing formal banning orders and also on the migration of getting supporters who have made complaints over their seats into areas of London Stadium which are more suitable.

West Ham's next home is against Accrington in an EFL Cup tie on September 21 before they host Southampton in the Premier League four days later.

Press Association

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