Monday, 8 September 2008

Power Corrupts

There has been alot of talk recently about accredited persons and the extended policing family. Where is the accountability? and will they abuse any powers that they are given? I think you only have to look at stewards at football matches to see the way we are heading. I know these are not strictly accredited persons but they do work closely with police, so some would bracket them into "policing family" - not me.

I remember the days when policing football was considered a good day out. If you were lucky you might get an inside post to watch the game. You could join in the banter with the crowd and if anybody got ejected it was because they deserved it.

Then we started to charge the football clubs for our services, and we don't come cheap. The upshot is - that on some matches there are no police officers policing inside the ground. The actual fixture will be classified either A B or C depending on the risk of disorder and resources allocated accordingly.

Hence the steward was born with powers to enforce ground regulations. This means he can throw you out for whatever he deems a breach. If PC Plod is policing inside he is acting as an agent of the club and therefore not in the execution of his duty - so if you lay hands on you'd better cover yourself by arresting that individual for say breach of the peace if ejecting. He can be dearrested outside.

Now I have many examples of over zealous stewarding. The police tend to man a staging post where all steward ejections end up. This is for intelligence purposes and also to see if any criminal offences might have been committed. You can't have a sanction detection slipping away folks. Also you tend to adjudicate and make a few decisions.

When stewards eject you would be approached by a whole mob of them with the football fan usually restrained, and his face contorted in pain. Don't forget these are paying customers. I would then listen to how the individual was told to sit down and after a few warnings thrown out. Hapless fan gives his side usually with a steward right in his face winding him up and pleads everybody was standing up - straight ejection.

One of my favourites was when a bloke was presented to me in wrist holds and bent over. I thought he must have done something serious. Head Steward (complete arse) states the bloke was abusive and threatening to him hence the ejection. Now the fan was OK - we're not talking kids here. He was upset and I understood why. Apparently he'd been into the toilets and good man that he was he went to wash his hands. Out of the cold tap came scolding hot water causing him to jump back. Rightly so was a patch of dampness on his jeans. He approached the head steward (mistake) and told him about the tap and that it might be dangerous to others, before being told the steward was busy and to go away. He remonstrated and stood his ground before getting grabbed and thrown out.

Now after years of custody experience you know when somebody is being genuine. All you can do is ignore the stewards requests to have him nicked and tell the bloke to write to the club and complain about his treatment.

I've had OAP's presented for smoking inside the ground and the stewards grab their season tickets with pleasure telling them they're banned. The poor old boy's have to write a grovelling letter in to get their ticket back. The ticket they've pay hundreds for. I know they breached ground regs but come on.

After each duty it became abit of a tradition to complain about the stewarding. On the de-brief I enjoyed presenting my examples about specific stewards and was reassured it would be fed back. But lets tell it how it is folks - these football clubs have money so they have power. So the police will dance to their tune as they pay us huge sums towards policing their games.

I now relieved of that duty, which is a bit of a result. I had a run in with the stewards when presented with another ejection. The steward was telling me what was going to happen to the ejected fan, wanting him nicked. Basically despite being surrounded by ten stewards- not one of them was a witness to what was alleged to have happened. I can't go into the details of the incident but it made the back pages. I says, well unless somebody who is going to give a statement, tells me what happened the bloke isn't getting arrested. I have finger pointing at me and you will do this threats. Nobody was forthcoming to present facts so I got particulars and the fan walks.

I think the actual words used when the club had a debrief with the police were "This officer is no longer welcome at our football club". I heard about this and asked if it was true. There was no denial and I take it we rolled over. It amuses me no end when I am sometimes posted to that duty, as I can say can't do that I'm banned.

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