U's in talks over policing costs

THE chief executive of Colchester United has questioned the need for major policing operations at home games - at great cost to the club.Marie Partner confirmed the Championship club was in talks with Essex Police over the categorising of matches at Layer Road.

THE chief executive of Colchester United has questioned the need for major policing operations at home games - at great cost to the club.

Marie Partner confirmed the Championship club was in talks with Essex Police over the categorising of matches at Layer Road.

It comes after Friday's derby match with Ipswich Town at Layer Road passed off with little trouble inside or outside the ground.

The club has to pay for the police presence and its promotion to the Championships has brought a higher number of category C matches, which are considered by police to require a higher presence of officers.


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But Ms Partner said that the stewarding at the ground is of a high standard and so far numbers of incident have been so low that Essex Police Authority should reconsider how they categorise the fixtures.

“We are saying that we are quite happy to police ourselves, we've never had any trouble in Layer Road,” she said.

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“We can only host 985 visiting supporters at most and they are saying that that needs 36 officers at certain fixtures.”

The police presence for category C games inside the Layer Road stadium is 36 officers, which is three units of police.

The club has revealed that the cost of policing inside the ground can vary from £9,000 up to £18,000, which, Mrs Partner said, was a lot for a club the size of Colchester United.

She added: “What we are trying to do is to work with the police where we can but at the end of the day we are a business.

“We will sit and listen to anything they have to say but it must be justifiable. We will try to solve this as amicably as possible.”

A spokesman for Essex Police said Colchester's success in reaching the second tier of English football has placed greater demands on the force.

He said: “The force is continuing in negotiations with the county's Championship football clubs to agree charges for the cost of policing certain categories of football match in accordance with national guidelines and legislation.

“In law, the Chief Constable can only charge for those officers provided by the police within the curtilage of the ground and at the request and agreement of the club.

“The clubs' stadiums do make financial gains from increased gates, television rights and the Football League.

“However, Essex Police does not want to see the additional costs of policing football matches fall upon the local community and in doing so reduce available resources for local neighbourhood policing.”

Colchester had only one category C game last season, which was the home fixture with Southend United.

This year they have already had two - matches against Ipswich and QPR - both of which passed off with very little incidents of disorder within the ground.

elliot.furniss@eadt.co.uk

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