The University is to play a leading role in delivering a £1 million training programme to police officers across Europe, to improve crowd safety and security at FIFA and UEFA football matches.
Every football season hundreds of thousands of football supporters travel across Europe to watch their clubs compete in competitions. Policing these events is the responsibility of each member state and brings about unique challenges to the host police force. Since the Heysel stadium disaster in 1985 it has been recognised that successful policing of such events can only be achieved through a coordinated European approach. In 2007, the EU and partners supported the development of an international training programme for those involved in policing these matches.
The University is a formal partner in a European wide consortium co-ordinated by the UK Football Policing Unit that has been awarded £1 million funding from the European Commission and UEFA.
The Institute of Psychology, Health and Society is to play a leading role in developing and delivering an international training programme for 250 of Europe’s’ most senior police officers involved in policing Champions League, Europa League matches and international football tournaments from more than 20 European countries including football match commanders, police spotters and intelligence officers.
This is one of the largest Continuing Professional Development (CPD) projects that the University is currently involved in and is a prime example of how research-led CPD can be used to quickly transfer new research findings from the research environment to external organisations via key professionals.
The training programme will examine the unique safety and security challenges associated with policing football matches with an international dimension across Europe and draws on Liverpool’s research expertise in the psychology and policing of football crowds. It aims to develop a common understanding of the nature of crowd dynamics, assist in standardising the gathering and management of police information regarding the risks to public safety and harmonise international police cooperation.
Chris McLinden, Head of CPD in Partnerships and Innovation, said: “Delivering CPD training programmes is an ideal way to transfer knowledge and expertise from research findings to external organisations. CPD programmes have also been shown to lead to new collaborations and partnerships which can result in research projects. The CPD team can provide academics who are interested in pursuing this activity with a range of support.”
Dr Clifford Stott, Senior Lecturer in at the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, is one of the UK’s leading academic experts on the psychology and policing of football crowds. He said: “This programme utilises Liverpool’s research expertise in crowd psychology and policing. It is unique in terms of quality, approach, participation and partnerships and includes the exchange of good practice among European police forces through interaction, theory and observation of police practice.
“Through this training those involved in policing football matches with an international dimension will have access to the latest scientific models of good practice. This will serve to enhance safety and help reduce conflict in football.”
Dr Stott was involved in developing UK national policy on public order policing following the G20 protests in London in 2009 and has assisted in preparations for major international football tournaments such as Euro 2004. Dr Stott has also been appointed the Chief Scientific Officer on a UEFA project to train football match commanders and stadium managers for the 2012 Poland and Ukraine European Championships.
Partners in the project include UEFA, police forces and Ministries of Interiors responsible for public order and which have experience of organising major football tournaments including European Championships.