Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Police lose football bill appeal

West Yorkshire Police wrongly categorised policing in the area immediately around Elland Road stadium as special police services

West Yorkshire Police have lost their appeal over who should pay for policing of matches at Leeds United's Elland Road stadium.

Last year, the Championship side won a ruling that it was entitled to be repaid by the force for services wrongly categorised as special police services for the seasons 2009 to 2012.

The litigation involves policing in the extended footprint of land immediately around the stadium which is not owned, leased or controlled by the club.

High Court judge Mr Justice Eady said that the services rendered fell within the normal constabulary duty to keep the peace and the club - whose home matches have one of the worst records of football-related violence in the country - should be repaid.

The sum at stake amounts to about £1 million or £350,000 a season - which equates to 17 new police constables.

In the Court of Appeal, the Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson, sitting with Lord Justice Moore-Bick and Lord Justice McCombe, said: "The policing of the extended footprint on match days is provided in order to maintain law and order and protect life and property in a public place.

"None of the arguments advanced on behalf of West Yorkshire Police persuades me that the law and order services provided by them in the extended footprint are different in principle from the law and order services that they provide in any other public place."

West Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said: "The judgment today says that for the time being council tax payers must subsidise the costs of policing football games. However, I feel that with £100 million of cuts to West Yorkshire Police, meaning we are losing 2,000 officers and staff, that this burden is unfair and unreasonable.

"It is a wake up call for the need for clear rules to govern the way businesses involved fairly cover the real costs of directly policing matches.

"I will be working with other police and crime commissioners nationally to lobby the Home Office for legislation to bring to an end the lack of clarity which has existed, and which should never have been the case."

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