Staffordshire Police are warning fans to “leave the kick-off to the professionals” as they gather in venues and at home to watch the World Cup.
For the next five weeks PC Rich Lymer and fellow officers will be out and about in venues showing matches to ensure communities can watch the tournament safely.
PC Lymer said that the “excitement and buzz of a major football tournament can sometimes unfortunately bring with it an increase in anti-social behaviour, drink driving and disorder”.
Officers will be providing high visibility patrols and monitoring issues around disorder and anti-social behaviour.
Police forces across the country are, as a statement by Staffordshire Police says “well prepared for the World Cup and have plans in place to reduce the risk of local crime and disorder. We have implemented measures to ensure firm, fair and friendly policing across the region, allowing people to enjoy matches safely and officers to disrupt those intent on engaging in disorder and draining police resources over a typically busy festive period”.
This includes sending 15 ‘engagement officers’ to Qatar to act as a ‘buffer’ between local law enforcement and the 7,000 England and Wales fans expected to attend.
Chief Constable Mark Roberts, England’s national lead football policing told The Guardian that with the World Cup taking place in a “very different part of the world”, he was concerned about fans despite not “not wishing to cause problems may act in a way that inadvertently causes offence or draws attention. Equally there may be perceptions on the part of either Qatari police or the supporting Turkish police where there’s this misapprehension of what supporters are doing”.
The engagement officers, he said, would be there to “deconflict” potentially difficult situations and to mediate, where necessary, between fans and local law enforcers.
PC Lymer is the dedicated football officer for Staffordshire and has worked with local clubs including Stoke City and Port Vale said many of the issues he and his colleagues will be on the look out for “directly align with community priorities which officers are actioning on a daily basis, this will be no different during the World Cup”.
Adding that “we want people to enjoy themselves – whether this is jumping from your seat as Harry Kane scores the winner or if you’re spreading festive cheer in the build-up to Christmas”.
He urged members of the public to if they see anyone engaging in disorder to “please get in touch and help us make sure that everyone stays safe”.