THE EFL has announced a new research-led crowd management project that seeks to work in partnership with police forces and Clubs nationally, and could help transform the way in which future matches are policed and stewarded.
ENABLE is a ground-breaking project that brings together leading academics, police forces, football Clubs and supporters in order to identify and evaluate innovative approaches to safety and security at football matches.
In doing so, it is designed to assist police forces and football Clubs to develop effective and financially sustainable approaches to crowd management. The project, which the EFL will support for the next two years, is coordinated by Professor Clifford Stott, of Keele University, and will look in detail at match-day policing and stewarding used by several police forces and Clubs.
Currently, Lancashire Police, Staffordshire Police, West Yorkshire Police, South Wales Police and West Midlands Police, along with their respective local Clubs, are already contributing to the ENABLE programme along with British Transport Police, who oversee the policing of the rail network.
EFL Head of Policy, John Nagle, said: “The safety and enjoyment of match going spectators is always of critical importance to the EFL and its Clubs. We therefore welcome the opportunity to work with the ENABLE team to help them continue their pioneering work.
“The aim of the project is to promote collaboration between football Clubs and police forces in order to encourage an ongoing, progressive dialogue about the best and most efficient ways to police football matches and to help them develop cutting edge crowd management techniques.
“In doing so, improving the match-day experience for supporters and helping to reduce the financial burden on Club and policing budgets, which are often stretched to the limit.”
Professor Clifford Stott, an internationally recognised expert on football crowd behaviour and head of ENABLE, said: “This is a groundbreaking project drawing on decades of expertise.
“For the first time in the UK we now have an opportunity to examine the complex issues surrounding crowd management in football in a more objective way. Because our project also involves all of the key stakeholders, it will ensure the rapid uptake of our research in ways that will help our partners quickly embed good policy and practice in evidence-led ways.
“We hope by working together our collaborative work will lead to very positive outcomes and help enhance security, improve supporter safety and empower fans’ positive experiences at football grounds across the country.”
ENABLE is also supported by the Football Supporters’ Association, who will be integrated into the project through a place on its steering committee.
Kevin Miles, Chief Executive at the Football Supporters' Association, said: "The FSA is delighted to be an active participant in ENABLE together with the EFL. We feed into observations of match day policing operations and have a place on the steering committee.
"The initiative isn't without its challenges but we have already seen positive changes in how supporters are policed and it's already clear that supporters respond far better to a community-driven, engaged style of policing as opposed to always being treated as a potential public-order problem."