POLICING AT THE NORTH LONDON DERBY
Prior to March's NLD derby AISA took part in a special meeting with the Metropolitan Police to discuss Arsenal supporters' experiences and safety concens before and after matches at White Hart Lane.
A follow-up meeting was due to take place with the Met but this was unfortunately postponed (we have been pressing for it to be rearranged as soon as possible). We want to discuss the responses we received to our consultation, and also to look forward to next season, when we understand that visiting supporters may be seated in a different area of the stadium.
Thanks to everyone who provided their accounts and statements about the trip to White Hart Lane, and also to pther members and supporters who contacted AISA with information and opinion received about other policing and stewarding concerns.
Thought I would make a few comments, was there at Spurs on Saturday, always one you dread in terms of hostility and the obvious reasons of them being our biggest rivals. Such a long walk from Seven Sisters Road down to the stadium, and as soon as you got off the tube you could feel the bigger presence of police, one or two lads I know getting cans taken off them. But it's when you get up to the stadium that it always heats up a bit at the junction by the away end and outside that pub where we always have to deal with all their fans standing on the corner giving it all to us and getting away with it, so was surprised to get there and see all the police vehicles stretched out along that corner preventing their fans waiting around. Secondly coming out after is always a nightmare with the Spurs fans coming to the left as we leave, so leaving the ground we were very surprised to see the police all standing there so they couldn't meet us from that point, giving them a sarcastic applause, so well done to the police on that.
Me and my other half went. Basically, we walked down to stadium, in no colours as obviously we didn't want to be recognised and this was our first time going. As we approach stadium we saw the sign for south stand, there was a mass of Spurs fans heading that way but it wasn't seeming to move and we were on the wrong side of the crowd. We tried to get over to the left where the gates were to go in and people started pushing and shoving to the point that I had a very bad panic attack. Very unusual for me to have but being 5ft, pushed about everywhere was very scary. My partner managed to pull us over to the right hand side to calm me down, as I've calmed we decide to push through and try and get in just outside turnstiles as it was getting to much for being in the crowds. As we ask the steward, he tells us to go to where in the video on Facebook is showing, we kept saying to him you need to let us in. The only reason he let us through is because a Spurs fan came behind my partner and started punching him in the back which made him move and me get pushed into another crowd. Luckily someone grabbed hold of me, got me out and took me straight to turnstile, all the stewards along the way did actually ask if I was okay and told me to go straight in for safety. I met the bag search lady and as were stood there, there's only a thin metal gate separating us from abusive Spurs fans. The stewards were alright, just would've made it easier if the first steward we had approached had just let us straight in and it took for someone to get violent towards Andrew to step out of the way!! We did not feel protected by the police at all, in fact they might as well had not been there they made no difference. On the way out there was 4 police horses but by then the fans fighting were along the road heading towards the underground and no where near stadium!
Just thought to drop an email about the NLD "experience" over the weekend. Personally, I think policing was greatly improved, and they took most of the points AISA highlighted to them on board. The biggest issue was getting into the ground. I got to THE junction about half hour before KO, but because the police (due to suggestion of course) had deployed at the junction to form a cordon, there were LOTS of Spurs fans there who just wanted trouble. The scenes were pretty grim with police forcing them back and broken bottles being thrown at Arsenal fans, but I think the police did a very good job of holding them off, though they were probably a bit overwhelmed by the amount of trouble they came to face (I am sure you have seen various videos circulating). If they weren’t there, the Spurs fans usually treat that area as a free for all brawl. As a result of the baying N17ers, it took us almost the full 30mins before KO to get into the ground. After the game, the improvements made were enormous! The fact that they forced Spurs fans to go around, as opposed to the usual clash as soon as we exit the ground made a huge difference. Overall, I think most of the comments were taken on board by the Met, and the improvements were obvious to see.
I’d like to say that the way the police organised things at the end of the game was the best I’ve ever experienced at WHL. The decision to block the road so that no Spurs fans were coming from our left meant that the exit into Park Lane was much safer than in previous years. It was also then easier to turn left into the High Road and get away. Whether the police’s decision was made as a result of the trouble before the game (which, fortunately, I missed as I was in the ground 1.5 hours early) or whether they were going to do it anyway, I don’t know. However, if they did that every year then I’m sure more Arsenal fans would be prepared to venture back to WHL. All in all, other than having to get there early to avoid the inevitable trouble on the corner of the High Road & Park Lane, it was not much more hassle than a regular away game and that’s not something I thought I’d ever say.
I was at the game again with my son and again witnessed some ugly scenes, lack of policing and mismanagement. We got off the train at Seven Sisters and were pleased to see a group of approx. 20 police officers outside the station. I thought that this was a good deterrence and response to the crowd trouble witnessed at every NLD that I've been going to for the last 4 years. Sadly this presence was the last until the ground itself. We walked past 2 senior officers one with 2 pips and 1 with 3, I believe the one with 3 was a chief inspector, both with clip boards half way up the seven sisters road. Shortly afterwards we encountered groups of spurs fans waiting on the pavements both sides clearly looking for trouble. Within minutes of us passing and navigating our way through, the bottles started flying over and the trouble started with Arsenal fans in colours being attached. There was inadequate police in numbers from the start, once people have been attacked it is too late to get police reinforcements. The bottle neck at the corner to the ground was a nightmare, trying to get through near the ground the police in small numbers trying to keep back hundreds of Spurs fans were a joke to be honest. The only good thing was that after the game we could at least walk out of the ground, however again there is insufficient numbers of police, as soon as you get on the high road you've got groups walking around looking for any signs of red colours for them to punch and attack. It was obvious that there was going to be trouble and it was organised not just something that happened. If the police do not increase the numbers, conduct some pro active policing and picking out trouble makers before they attack people, someone will die and that's too late, as its already too late now. I extend my offer to the officers who are responsible to attend matches in a capacity to see beforehand what is needed. the policing was extremely poor. There should have been an escort given to fans and the attacks and assaults are a clear result of this.
I am sure I am not the only one who will be writing to you following todays game. Entry to the ground this time was literally running the gauntlet. Why on earth did the Police allows home idiots to line both sides of the road? There is a simple solution here. Close that road completely an hour before KO ensuring anybody who goes down there is a ticket holder and that they go straight into the ground and having a specified lane for away fans which is properly segregated and policed. I have been attending that ground ever since 1972 and the police never seem to get it right.
I arrived in the vicinity of the ground at 12.30 and all was fine until entering Park Lane. I can only describe it as “kettling”. No intention from the police to move supporters on and Spurs fans on both sides of a narrow strip as away fans tried to get through the cordon to the barriers to gain entry to the turnstiles. No efforts by police to curb the intimidation, almost positively encouraged. A shambles of a police effort. I left on the final whistle and was on my toes off down the Seven Sisters Road to the tube and did not hang around. All this compared to the totally benign situation when Spurs come to N5 is hard to accept. It must improve. Park Lane should be divided in two at the junction. Away fans to the north side of the road, away to the south and have proper policing, control and barriers between the two.
Just a quick comment because I found the policing very effective. My journey to the ground was peaceful and with plenty of visible policing very little sign of trouble. During the game it was visible and unobtrusive (I was in upper tier). In the past, I have found exiting the ground can be intimidating as often "boisterous" spurs fans walked up alongside our ground exit or congregated at the high road corner with limited police presence. This time it was excellent with spurs fan apparently diverted away from our exit and dispersion of the spurs fans at the corner with the high street. I felt totally safe and no sign of aggravation. Very good policing this time.
I attended the match this last weekend at White Hart Lane & after previous unpleasant experiences as an Arsenal Fan there going back to the 1980s we decided to enter the ground much earlier than usual & were inside the stadium at 12 noon. I noticed the increase in visible Police presence from the time we exited Seven Sisters Tube station & all the way up the high Road. On the corner of the High Road & the Park Lane there were also more Police & mounted units which was reassuring. Viewing various videos on the news & social media at the events that later transpired nearer to Kick Off, I still can’t understand why Spurs fans are allowed into so close contact with the Arsenal Fans.At the barriers near the turnstiles the Police looked under resourced & a few arsenal fans were physically assaulted, if there had been more Arsenal fans to attack I think this situation could have escalated. Was the man in the grey hooded coat arrested for his clear assault on the grey haired man in the green parka jacket? After the game the fact that the Spurs fans weren’t allowed to leave the ground along Park Lane to reach the High Road & couldn’t walk past the Arsenal fans meant we were more able to mingle with the home fans & as people don’t generally wear colours this was much better but the question has to be asked about the Policing near the turnstiles before the game. Going forwards to next year I hope this is improved upon.
Much easier to get out ground with road blocked off. Didn't see any trouble and it was all quite calm. Having black cabs on the High Road was handy too as we took one!
The extra presence and the closing off of Park Lane to home supporters at the end of the game certainly helped. Losing 300 tickets because the hoardings were ripped down on the previous visit was wrong. This sets a precedent for every other games where if anything goes wrong, the normal fan to be punished.
Speaking as a 59 year old experienced supporter who has attended many NLD dating back to the early seventies I can honestly say that prior to the kick off and gaining entry into the ground at White Hart Lane was my worst ever experience ever at that ground. I was led to believe that after the disturbances in the league cup tie at Tottenham the policing was to be stepped up and unfortunately I found this not to be the case. Trying to get into the ground I found that I was hit with many missiles mainly coins but also included stones and glasses, the stewarding was inadequate and I felt threatened. After the game had finished I was pleasantly surprised that the police had sectioned off the roads now allowing Spurs fans excess to the Arsenal fans leaving the ground, why can I ask did this not happen before the game? I’m sure that it would be possible to divert Spurs fans around the stadium to avoid clashes like this in the future.
I took my 12 year old daughter as we are away scheme members and there is no reason why the awful time getting in and out of the ground should stop her going to this match. Luckily we did enter the ground well before the chaotic scenes ensued outside - but god know how angry I would have been if we had been caught up in any of that. I don't take cartons in as these are asked to be emptied and that is just an annoyance (as there is no problem with this anywhere else in the league). Will enclose a photo of our lovely view of the goal we were defending in the first half - as we have 'front row' seats - which in most grounds is a plus - but not at WHL. This is the view while sitting in our seats - which is what you are supposed to do isn't it! Another nasty thing is how the Tottenham fans who are carers for disabled fans actually turn round and stare at you wanting an argument and one just stood their laughing when they went 2-1 up all very sad - I asked him to sit down! Leaving the ground was ok as we were not kept in - we stayed quiet and wore no colours. The amount of riot style police was incredible but probably needed.
I've attended the last 3 NLD at WHL. On Saturday I noticed an improvement in the walk from Seven Sisters station to the ground, all was very calm. Leaving the ground was great and very well organised - police stopping Tottenham fans walking along Park Lane and past the away exit was a real improvement and made exiting much easier. I felt keeping the segregation onto the high road was a good tactic as the crowds can blend at this point. Entrance to the ground before kick off was frankly a nightmare. Ineffective segregation and the police had no control over crowds. Myself and my brother asked a police officer how to get through the melee and we were told 'the queue is that way, good luck.' I noticed a year ago the police segregated fans by the away entrance using vans, this was a tactic that was not used this time around. Tottenham fans were clearly congregating on the corner of park lane and then opposite the away entrance to goad arsenal fans, I saw no attempt from the police to keep them moving along. So to sum up - entering the ground, bad. Exiting, much much improved.
I didn't have any problems, but some of my friends did. They arrived close to kick-off & got held up with the annual fight. After the match, leaving was much better, with the police stopping that lot from coming down the road. My only concern on this is, if it's going to be employed when we visit, they'll know and find some other way to get to us.
We left 12 pins pub Finsbury and got off at Seven Sisters. Once out the station walk down was fine on the whole, the odd scuffle and normal name calling between two sets of fans. Nearer we got to the ground obviously more fans were there. When we got to the cross roads by stadium where we have to turn right to head towards away end (Park Lane) stand we were stopped because thousands of Spurs had blocked the route. Coins and bottles were thrown from the Spurs "faithful" we were blocked for about 10 minutes until Police managed to clear a route for the Arsenal fans to continue on way. Once we got to "queue railings" for the away end it went mad again. Spurs fans again pushed through the police line and threw pinches coins and whatever else they were towards the Arsenal fans, of course Arsenal fans retaliated but in self defence. I think the police did good job in keeping order in the main as could have been a lot worse.
Once we got to turnstile area some arsenal fans were turned away by stewards as they had lower tier tickets (we were upper and thankfully in right area). The people who were tuned away rightly Said to the stewards it would be ridiculous for them to go back out the Queue as they'll be right back in between the Spurs arsenal and police again? The stewards STILL made them leave the Queue. No problems after the match as police has stopped the majority of idiots coming from their park lane stand.
Just some feedback on what we experienced on Sat at NLD....We got off the tube at Severn sisters which gave us around a 30min to the stadium through High Street I believe. As we got nearer to the ground it become clear that as the spurs fans starting piling out of the Spurs pubs on the right hand side of the road that was when the altercations started. Police were obviously present but I wouldn't say in great or sufficient numbers. Although some altercations took place and we endured significant coin throwing the situation felt in some sort of control.It wasn't until we were at the point near the stadium where we had to cross the road through the Spurs fans to get the away entrance that it really kicked off. The spurs fans came about 10/15 deep around us and in front of us and the police tried to force them back as there was no way of us getting through. The spurs fans at that time were clashing heavily with the police and trying to get at us. We eventually crossed to road and were slowly shepherded towards the direction of the entrance. By this time the coin throwing and other debris became much more frequent and the altercations bigger . When we finally managed to get around 50 yards away from the away entrance we suddenly found ourselves surrounded on all sides by violent Spurs fans. They continued to charge at the police and police horses to get at us. The police on horseback were doing their best to restrain them and force them back, but the sheer numbers made it an impossible task. Such was the force of the charging we actually got push slightly past the entrance and into the Spurs fans in front of us that were as far down the road as the eye could see. It was then a case of climbing over the metal barriers any way possible to get into the turnstiles, anyone attempted to get through the barriers correctly(from the start) were just getting hit with punches and debris. In my opinion the safest option would of been to hold the remaining Arsenal fans back before we crossed the road to the entrance and Sheppard the Spurs fans into the ground first or away from the the Arsenal entrance. If the Spurs fans had of broken the police line god only knows what would of happened to us. Exiting the ground was a completely different experience and we encountered absolute zero confrontation or violence. I have videos from the walk to the ground, if you require them just let me know.
[Name removed] has pretty much covered all aspects of Saturday’s events in his detailed description so I just want to re-iterate what he has said especially the insufficient policing that I believe was the reason for the low level of safety we felt we had at the game on Saturday. From a personal point of view, having not attended a NLD derby before I did not know what to expect but I have to be honest I would seriously have to consider ever going again due to how un-safe I felt attempting to get into the ground. As [name removed] stated it does not bear thinking about what might have happened to us had the Spurs fans broken though the slim barrier the police had put up for us as we were massively outnumbered! I was just relieved to get home safely.
We arrived early and left quietly. We had no problems and saw no issues.
I felt the policing post game was decent. I leave on the final whistle and I was delighted to see the police had blocked off Spurs fans mingling with Arsenal fans up until the high road. There seemed to be more visible policing but I think the police intentions need communicating to Arsenal fans before the game. I know their approach varies year on year. Some genuinely worry about leaving the ground and its mainly fear of the unknown. If we knew where we stood in advance it would help all concerned.