The Supporters Trust would like to thank Superintendent Chris Hillery from Northamptonshire Police for attending our board meeting last week.
We requested a meeting with the police to discuss the policing of the recent home fixture against Coventry City, which resulted in a pitch incursion and provoked anger and concern from many Cobblers fans at the way police tactics were deployed that afternoon.
Chris explained that the Coventry match was designated as a police fixture – not all home games are policed inside the ground, many are stewards only.
The match was designated a Category A game with a limited policing presence – Category B and C games are deemed higher risk with more police on duty inside the stadium.
The board questioned this in respect of trouble from Coventry fans at other away grounds this season and also the clear likelihood of a significant protest against the club’s owners on the ground which they shared with the Cobblers a few seasons ago.
Chris said that all the pre-match intelligence suggested that a Category A presence was sufficient but he admitted that, as events unfolded on matchday before and during the game, that this was a wrong call. As a result, police resources were stretched and tactics were deployed to prevent disorder in the ground first, disruption of the game second.
He said that it was the job of stewards and not the police to go after anyone who went on the pitch. A number of arrests have been made and automatic banning orders have already been put in place on those arrested.
He also said that an official cordon was placed in front of fans in the west stand to prevent Coventry fans attacking club officials.
He said it was not to quell any trouble from home fans, whom he praised for their tolerance.
Chris added that he did not know why sections of the home supporters were being filmed at a time when there was criminal behaviour taking place elsewhere in the stadium.
In summing up, he said he had agreed to attend the meeting to hold his hands up to apologise for errors made that were down to him.
He added that lessons had been learned in respect of gathering intelligence and tactical options and was more than happy to meet with the Trust again to discuss any matters around football policing.