Sussex Police has appealed to football fans watching the World Cup semi final tonight to ‘celebrate sensibly’ after rowdy fans damaged an ambulance elsewhere in the country.
High spirits have threatened to get out of hand during some isolated incidents within the two counties, and senior officers are urging supporters to show common sense as well as solidarity with the national side.
In Eastbourne an over-excited fan climbed onto a police van as it moved slowly through a crowd of revellers blocking the passage of buses along Seaside. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
In Brighton streets were temporarily blocked by fans pouring out of pubs to celebrate Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Sweden, and scuffles have been reported elsewhere.
Sussex Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry said: “We don’t want to dampen enthusiasm for what has been a remarkable tournament so far and we are encouraging everyone to enjoy England’s current success.
“Indeed, for many too young to remember England winning the World Cup in 1966, it is a unique experience and one they should certainly treasure.
“The majority of people do so sportingly, without resorting to anti-social or even criminal behaviour, and it is that which we wish to promote.”
A total of 387 incidents were recorded last weekend across the country, and more than 70 arrests were made. There have been a total of 1,086 football-related incidents since the tournament began, with 226 domestic abuse related incidents and 230 arrests being made overall.
A snapshot of some of the incidents reported across England and Wales includes, according to Sussex Police:
• An ambulance significantly damaged while parked on Borough High Street in London;
• In Northampton, crowds caused disturbances in part of the town, resulting in road closures while officers dealt with the disorder. Two people were arrested;
• At Clapham Junction, one man jumped off a double-decker bus and fell through the roof of a bus shelter;
• Flares were released in a street in Leicestershire, with a road blocked by hundreds of people;
• In Southampton, people blocked the roads with some climbing onto and jumping across the roofs of buses;
• A taxi received extensive criminal damage in Nottingham;
• Humberside saw disruption in Bridlington, Hull and Cleethorpes as people climbed on bus shelters and vehicles.
In many cases incidents have been alcohol-related, police said.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Football Policing, South Yorkshire Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, said: “This behaviour has real consequences.
“Numerous roads across the country were blocked stopping emergency vehicles getting to people in need and an ambulance is now off the road while being repaired. Shops were damaged, people were abused and assaulted and others climbed on buses and cars, causing damage to vehicles, and in some cases, themselves.”
He added: “This is in stark contrast to the fans out in Russia, whose behaviour, apart from a couple of minor incidents, has been great.”
In advance of the England’s semi-final match against Croatia on Wednesday July 11, DCC Roberts warned fans: “There is absolutely no excuse for this type of senseless behaviour.
“Emergency services resources are already stretched. We want people to celebrate and enjoy themselves but not at the expense of law-abiding fans and emergency services’ resources.”
ACC Barry, for Sussex and Surrey, said: “I can only echo that. If you’re heading out on Wednesday to watch England’s match against Croatia, have a great time, look out for each other but whether we win or lose remember to keep things within reason. That way everybody can enjoy themselves safely, without getting hurt or arrested.”
Additionally, while there is no intelligence to indicate an increased terrorist threat to World Cup screenings (or any other summer events), anyone attending a public screening is encouraged to follow some basic safety advice as part of the ‘Know the game plan’ supported by Former England stars Alan Shearer, David Seaman and Paul Parker:
• Arrive early and minimise what you carry. Fewer bag searches speed up entry in events.
• Be vigilant: If you see anything suspicious, tell a member of staff straight away.
• If you see anything which could pose an immediate threat to safety, all 999.
• In an emergency, listen to and follow public address instructions.
• If told to evacuate, do not wait around or film on your mobile phone.
• Move right away from the area quickly to allow emergency workers access. The new National Coordinator for Protect and Prepare Policing, Chief Superintendent Nick Aldworth, wants the public to know the game plan for better security.
Alan Shearer said: “Security is a team effort. If you’re going to see the game have a great time and look out for each other. Know your game plan and we can keep everyone safe. ”Fans can help us by watching these new videos to make themselves aware of the existing safety advice and to be ready to ACT if you spot suspicious behaviour and activity.”