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Supporter Behaviour and Policing

Date: 11th March 2019

The 2018/19 season has been marred by a succession of incidents of misbehaviour by supporters, with the latest happening at Hibernian’s recent matches against Celtic and Rangers at Easter Road. These are not unique to Scotland – two supporters also ran onto the pitch and confronted players in English Premiership games at the weekend – but the frequency of them has brought the media spotlight onto Scottish football.

We were invited to comment on these incidents in TV, radio and newspaper coverage, and like everyone else condemned this behaviour in the strongest terms. While criticism has been unanimous, solutions have been harder to find. We firmly believe that the answer must lie within Scottish football – but that if we fail to get our own house in order it is inevitable that government will step in. There is a risk to the safety of supporters, players and officials, and it is simply unacceptable for the apparent escalation of this behaviour to continue unchecked.

First and foremost, it is individual supporters who are responsible for these acts of violence and disorder, and they must be held to account. It is every supporter’s responsibility to call this behaviour out when we witness it, and identify the culprits before we are all punished for the actions of a tiny minority.

Ground regulations are in place at every stadium in Scotland, which clearly set out the standards of behaviour expected of us. The behaviour we have seen recently is clearly prohibited within these regulations, and in many cases is also against the law. While stewarding and policing can always be improved, it is a mark of its effectiveness that the culprits in many of these incidents have been identified and dealt with quickly – but there is still some way to go. The recent independent review of policing, which gathered evidence from supporters amongst many other stakeholders in our game, revealed that the policing of football in Scotland compares well to other European countries, whilst making recommendations to improve the consistency of policing operations. Of more concern was the findings regarding inconsistency in the management of safety certificates for football stadiums.

Every fan deserves to be able to support their team in an environment which is safe, and to enjoy the match without it being interrupted by the misbehaviour of others. We will continue to work with our game’s decision makers to ensure there is a comprehensive response to both the issue of supporter behaviour, and to the issues identified in the policing review.

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