Rank: Special Constable
Length of service: 12 months
Planned hours: 0800-2000
Location: Metropolitan Police Service
All timings are approximate
0800- Arrive at the nick and kit up. I’m part of a serial today policing a local stadium for a big football match. West Ham United V Southampton. K.O is at 1300hrs but we need to get to the borough and brief, as well as police the local area before the match. MSC officers are providing all serials, however L2 PO officers are on standby to respond to calls of fighting or escalating violence if required.
1000- We arrive at the local PS for our briefing. Several officers in my serial have never done this before so should be a good learning curve for them. After a bit of waiting around while the serial Sgts have their own briefing, we are all called into the brief room and it begins.
Strategic points are highlighted, as well as key info such as supporter tension areas, cash machines etc. We also go over specific hooligan and football related legislation as a refresher of additional powers that could be used, as well as firework legislation.
The final note is to remember the entire borough is a no-alcohol zone, to stay safe and enjoy the event.
1100- We head out in the van and park up nearby to Upton Park LUL station. We are joined by up to 10 more vans full of officers from the briefing who will also be patrolling this patch. As we head off on foot, we split into pairs and space ourselves out as we begin our patrol up and down. We are responsible for a 0.5 mile section of Green Street, which runs directly outside the stadium to the LUL station.
The pavements are packed already. Merchandise sales, visitors and residents all trying to keep on the narrow walkways. The road isn’t closed, so a steady stream of vehicles travels in both directions.
On our half of the road a local shop is very busy. A look closer and there are big signs telling people not to buy their alcohol, but they still openly sell it. (Why wouldn’t they? Must be making a killing on match days!)
A little time is spent here announcing a “no alcohol zone, it will be confiscated.” When the next pair arrive at the shop, myself and my partner move forward toward the end of the street.
We arrive at the junction with Barking Road. A tension spot. There is a C/Ins there with a L2 PO serial. After a brief chat we turn around and begin heading back up towards the LUL station.
1140- Back near the shop. Myself and my colleague I’m partnered with stop a few lads with open vessels (Stella cans to you and me) We highlight the problem, and they hand over the beers easy enough. 5090s completed for the alcohol seizures.
Soon after a different bloke walks straight out of the shop and pulls open the can. I stop him and tell him the problem, being a no-alcohol zone. He takes exception to this and tries to run off. I follow him out into the road and grab a hold of him. He takes me down to the floor and we’re rolling about over a can of beer. *Sigh
My partner gets on the radio and two officers from another serial rush over and help me up with this guy. They get him in cuffs and we clear from the road. It turns out this guy is French and didn’t really know what I was saying. His English was pretty poor. These two other officers pat this guy down and we get his ID. My partner runs checks on him and his mobiles while we have him stopped.
After several minutes we finally get the message across. He’s still not happy and wants us to give him his money back for the beer he’s wasted. Tough luck. A final word of advice and he’s released.
1230- 30 minutes to K.O and the majority of the fans are now in the stadium. However many stragglers and late comers are rushing toward to make K.O. At this point we are back up near the LUL station and our van. We spot two lads urinating between the vans up a wall. A little startled to hear my voice, they quickly put their bits away. 2 tickets completed for public urination after the person checks came back clear. Expensive pee. The toilet aren’t too far from here.
1301- We had strict instructions to rejoin our serial at a specific gate for K.O. We were about 5 minutes away on foot and quickly made our way to our position. The huge doors were closed. So a bang on the door and the steward lets us in from the inside.
1315- West Ham have scored already and we’re first for refs! I’m more interested in feeding than the football so I’m delighted were on break first. (When does that ever happen?)
We finish up and head to a position in the far corner. We are led through narrow passageways under the stands to save walking the pitch edge.
I’ve never been to a football game before, the atmosphere is truly amazing I must say. It feels so huge and loud. Especially being down on pitch level.
We’re told not to watch the game, but keep an eye out into the stands for any possible trouble. I’m not liking the idea of heading up into there. Thankfully the stewards go in first unless it’s a big mess and bring the trouble makers to us. Same for any pitch streakers/invaders. They are tasked to run around like wallys chasing them rather than us. Anyway we work out a way to keep an eye on the game and the stands in turn. We’re all happy.
1350- After some extra time the half time whistle is blown. Over the steward PR reports of known WHU trouble makers are in one of the bar areas under the stand we are at. We head in as a complete serial.
This is probably the worst part. There is approximately 8 of us in here with how ever many hundreds of merry supporters. It’s very cramped and we hold shoulders to stay together and push through to where we are needed. Very intimidating I must admit. The bustling, and loud noise. You can hardly hear your colleague shouting to keep together.
The trouble makers are discreetly pointed out but they are playing nice today. Maybe us being there quickly has persuaded them no fighting in the bar area today. And boy were we glad! I’d imagine it to be carnage if that happened!
1410- (Approximate time) and the second half has started. We’re now down the other side of the stand and we can’t see the supporters from here. Only those across the pitch, and nothing we can do about those if they we’re to kick off. We can relax a little and stand and watch the entire second half.
West Ham went on to win 3-1.
1450- 5 minutes before the actual final whistle we head back out through the narrow passageway, out the huge gate and back to the main road. We need to get to the LUL station and keep the peace ready for the supporters piling up and trying to get on the trains.
BTP have the station building and the platforms, we have everywhere between. Lucky them.
We form up along the side street where the riot vans are all parked. The idea is that as each gateway becomes swamped the steward closes the gate and the crowd move down to the next one. This saves fence hopping to avoid long queues walking the long way. I have to jump in a help the steward close the gate opposite me, there was a large crush! A bit of verbal domination and many decide to start running to the next gate!
We’re here for around 2 hours. The swell of the crowd stays large for most of this time. Many ask for a photo with me and their kids, which is nice.
There is also the underlying problem with beers again. Any open cans are removed and seized. Supporters think they have a few tricks to smuggle them past, but we are wise to these.
1507- Several Grade I calls are announced of ‘sporadic fighting’ at some locations within a few minutes of each other. The L2 officers mobilize in their vehicles. Upon arrival at each location they announce there is nobody there and must just be hoax calls.
1700- The lead Inspector calls us all outside of the LUL station. A congratulation is in order for the way we handled the event. It was the first MSC only football aid for a long time, and he was very happy with how we handled it. Probably partly to the home supporters being happy with a win. I’d imagine there would have been more trouble had they lost.
1730- After a quick soft drink and de-kit. We load up back into our van and head for our home borough.
1800- After arriving back at our nick Intel reports collated from the day and seizure notes added into the system we end the shift together around an hour later. An hour early, result!