HC Deb 05 December 1996 vol 286 c1197
11. Mr. Tony Banks

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will assess the adequacy of the policing of football matches. [6158]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Timothy Kirkhope)

Policing of football matches is an operational matter for chief officers, but I am satisfied that it is done professionally and efficiently—the whole world saw the evidence of that during Euro 96.

Mr. Banks

I hope that, this evening, the Minister will have a chance to watch the drama on Carlton Television about the Hillsborough disaster, because many football supporters are angry about what they see as the failure of policing at Hillsborough and the lies and cover-ups that followed. The Minister should be prepared to talk with the football clubs and the police to allow the clubs to have more of an input into the policing decisions in grounds. The police rely far too often on historical background for policing levels rather than on new technology, the new seating and the new arrangements in clubs. Will not the Minister allow the clubs to have greater involvement, because sometimes policing charges for football clubs are more than the gate receipts?

Mr. Kirkhope

It is for the football clubs to discuss with the chief officers in their areas the nature and extent of policing both inside and outside the grounds. I am satisfied that there have been considerable developments since the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. Great progress has been made, and one has only to go to an excellent match—as I did on Sunday, when an excellent team beat the hon. Member's team 2-0—to see that the standards in grounds are now enormously high.