Police force threat over England game

A POLICE force threatened to withdraw its officers from a major Suffolk racing venue if the event's organisers screened England's quarter final clash with Portugal on Saturday, it has emerged.

A POLICE force threatened to withdraw its officers from a major Suffolk racing venue if the event's organisers screened England's quarter final clash with Portugal on Saturday, it has emerged.

Newmarket Racecourses attracts between 6,000 and 8,000 visitors for its Saturday races and course managers have to hire in between eight and ten police officers to make sure everybody is safe.

Racecourse bosses had planned to screen the match not only on its small television screens inside its buildings but also on a giant screen outside.

But Cambridgeshire Police told them they would not provide police presence if they went ahead with their plans, which Newmarket Racecourses claimed had forced its hand in barring the match from their screens.


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The Cambridgeshire force yesterday defended its actions in the interests of public order, and claimed the idea of withdrawing officers from public venues intent on screening the match was meant to ensure it had sufficient officers to deal with any emergency situations that arose.

Gary Tate, finance director at Newmarket Racecourses, said: “Cambridgeshire Police has made it clear to all major venues in the county that they will not provide any police cover if they show the football on either large or small screens and we feel that it would be irresponsible for a major racecourse to stage a race day without any police presence.

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“We have a good working relationship with Cambridgeshire Police and accept their stance.

“We would like to apologise to anyone who was hoping to watch the football here this weekend and will now be endeavouring to alert as many of our race-goers as possible.

“We will of course keep people updated on the score over the public address system.”

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Police said the reason the force head threatened to remove police cover from public venues screening the match was one of consistency.

He said the force could not offer advice against screening the match and yet support, by providing its staff, events that acted against its safety advice.

He said: “I can confirm that following a meeting this week between police, officials from Newmarket Racecourse and other agencies, the decision was taken not to show this Saturday's England match on the big screen at the course.

“The decision was made by the racecourse after police advised that it would not be in the interests of public safety to show the game.

“Due to public order issues and to ensure the safety of members of the public, police will not be supporting the showing of football matches on big screens in public places throughout the rest of the World Cup.”

The police said its advice did not extend to public houses, which were free to show the match as they wished.

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