ACC Mark Roberts blog: We all have the same aim - a safe and enjoyable World Cup
It’s hard to forget the scenes from Marseilles during Euro 2016. We witnessed some of the worst football violence in recent years. It was highly organised and prolonged with many being left with serious injuries. This isn’t what football tournaments should be about.
I recently travelled to Russia to meet with World Cup organisers to discuss their security plans ahead of the tournament. These early meetings build on the excellent working relationship we forged with the Russian policing delegation in France.
It is clear that we all have the same aim – a safe and enjoyable World Cup. We want supporters to feel confident that they can visit Russia, watch the football and explore the host cities.
The focus in Moscow is very much on providing the best experience for fans from every country. So far I have seen a strong commitment to security and am interested to see how these plans progress.
In the lead-up to the World Cup we will continue to work with our Russian counterparts to offer them every support we can. As I learn more about the security arrangements, I will pass this information on to fans so they can make an informed decision. Fans should also keep up to date with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice.
There is no excuse for violence, disorder or anti-social behaviour at football matches and the World Cup is no exception.
Looking back at previous events, there wasn’t one arrest of a British national related to football disorder in South Africa, Poland & Ukraine or Brazil. We want this trend to continue.
Legislation and banning orders have worked well in reducing the risk of violence from UK fans at matches.
We will be doing all we can to ensure that genuine fans who want to enjoy the football can and those intent on engaging in disorder are prevented from travelling. In the lead-up to the World Cup people who are subject to football banning orders will be contacted and required to surrender their passports. A large scale operation at UK ports will run throughout the tournament with experienced officers on hand to identify and prevent high-risk individuals travelling.
Our role in Russia will be to support the authorities by providing intelligence, identifying known risk supporters, engaging with UK fans and advising the local police on appropriate tactics with visiting supporters.
The first meeting with the teams in Moscow has paved the way for cooperation and collaboration in the build-up to the World Cup. We want to work with organisers and authorities to provide the safest environment that we can.
We want Russia to be remembered for the right reasons. International tournaments provide fans with the opportunity to meet with supporters from all over the world and enjoy the football. This is what we know the majority of fans want and we will work with our Russian counterparts every step of the way to achieve this.