UPDATE 15,15 Friday: A Brent Council spokesperson said: "We welcome Baroness Casey's detailed and balanced report. This is not about a blame game, this is about learning lessons to ensure that the shocking scenes of EURO Sunday can never be repeated. We will work closely with partners, including the FA and Metropolitan Police, to take forward the recommendations."
The Casey Review published today LINK finds that the arrival of large numbers of ticketless fans at Wembley on the day of the final was predictable. What was unexpected was the ferocity and scale of these efforts. The behaviour of those who may not have come to Wembley planning to get into the stadium but joined in, often violently, when it became apparent that this was possible, was particularly striking.
However, warning signs (involving earlier matches in the tournament) were not recognised as parts of a bigger picture of trouble looming. This was largely due to assumptions that trouble was more likely to flare after the game and across London. Brent Council were the exception to some degree, having flagged concerns in the days leading up to the final. On the day around 9am a Brent Council official flagged up that ticketless fans were queueing up at pubs near the stadium.
Chapter 4 of the Review concludes that although action was stepped up for the final there was an absence of risk assessment for the occasion that Euro Sunday represented. This amounted to a collective failure by partners involved.
Summary of key findings (extracted from the Review) Highlighting mine.
The key findings of the Review are as follows:
- ● The behaviour of a large minority of England supporters was not just disgraceful, it recklessly endangered lives
- ● There were a series of crowd ‘near misses’ which could have led to significant injuries or even death
- ● Planning and preparation for Euro Sunday was hampered by a set of unique conditions, including the ongoing need to manage the Covid-19 pandemic, which combined to create a ‘perfect storm’
- ● Many of the events that unfolded were foreseeable, and, while there were many mitigating factors, there was a collective failure to plan for the worst case scenario
- ● A loss of experienced stewards as a result of the pandemic left Wembley’s stewarding operation vulnerable when confronted with the most aggressive and disorderly crowd Wembley had ever seen
- ● The absence of a fan zone or fan zones denied the police and other agencies a key crowd management tool and was potentially a very significant factor
- ● There was insufficient enforcement of the ban on consuming alcohol on public transport in London
- ● The policing of the final did not sufficiently mitigate the risk of ticketless fans with officers deployed too late in the day
- ● There are a lack of enforcement mechanisms available to respond to and deter the kind of behaviour witnessed at Euro Sunday
- ● Planning of the final did not match
the ‘occasion’ that was Euro Sunday
This Review makes 5 recommendations for national consideration and 3 specifically for the FA and Wembley and its partners. This Review has been conducted on behalf of the FA to look at their own responsibilities with regard to Euro Sunday.
We have considered the wider partnerships and the national context within which the event took place and taken the liberty of making some recommendations with that in mind. It should also be noted that while this Review is concerned with football there are many lessons that could be applied to the wider stadium and event industry.
1. I recommend that the Government considers a new category for football matches of national significance
The majority of partners treated the Euro final as another match albeit a significant one, rather than an event of national significance. As a result, the security arrangements surrounding the final were underpowered and public safety was not given the prominence it deserved.
In the future, there should be a new category for football matches of national significance, with the SGSA, police, and other key partners setting out what steps should be taken for such matches. This could include:
- ● A maximalist police (and other agencies with enforcement powers) resourcing and deployment plan
- ● The establishment of a sterile area within Zone Ex which is restricted to ticket- holders
- ● More robust governance arrangements including an independent checkpoint as part of the process
- ● Enhanced enforcement of bans on
alcohol consumption on public transport and in other designated public
The prospect of new legislation is welcome and timely as it gives the Government the opportunity to update the legal framework that governs spectator safety which has not been significantly reviewed since the Hillsborough tragedy.
2. I recommend that the Government consider tasking the SGSA to work with the FA and the event industry to undertake a review of stewarding
SGSA should undertake a review and research the current challenges faced by live sporting events in securing sufficient numbers of trained stewards and provide guidance to the sector on how public safety can be assured.
A range of wider factors, including the pandemic (which prompted many experienced stewards to find new vocations) and global supply chain challenges, have created significant workforce challenges for the stewarding sector. It is important that the implications of these shortages are understood for the wider events sector.
The SGSA should work with key partners (including the FA and United Kingdom Crowd Management Association (UKCMA)) to understand the particular factors in play here and their implications for the longer-term sustainability of the stewarding role at major sports events. That, in turn, should inform wider considerations within the Government and the sector itself.
3. The SGSA, the events industry, the police and local government agree on a way forward on who is accountable for Zone Ex
There should be clear accountability for public safety in Zone Ex. The question of who was responsible for public safety on Olympic Way was a contributing factor to the inability to deal with the disorder seen in the build-up to kick-off. The police and stadium operators have for many years contested the issue of who is responsible for safety and security in Zone Ex (the area of public space outside the stadium used by supporters) and the financing of it remains a contested issue. This should be resolved.
The SGSA should review the provisions of the 1975 Safety of Sports Grounds Act, together with its oversight powers and any associated guidance for local authorities, to determine if they are still fit for purpose, particularly in relation to the control and management of Zone Ex.
4. I ask that The FA - as the governing body that oversees football - lead a national campaign to bring about a sea-change in attitudes towards supporter behaviours
The appalling behaviour of supporters on Euro Sunday should be a wake-up call for us all. For too long, the actions of a minority of England fans have been tolerated as a part of our national culture (albeit an embarrassing one), rather than confronted head-on.
The FA and Wembley, working with others, should step up action on eradicating such behaviours from football, including:
- ● refusing to allow entry to fans who arrive chanting foul abuse and/ or are clearly under the influence of alcohol and/ or drugs
- ● stricter enforcement (with police support) against those behaving badly inside the stadium, with consideration being given to ejections also leading to an automatic exclusion and ban from all football grounds (not just Wembley)
- ● more proactive engagement with the Football Safety Officers Association around intelligence-sharing, particularly with regards to fan behaviours
- ● a considerable step-up action again to stamp out racism by the FA, Premier League and English Football League
- ● Appoint the Football Supporters Association
(supported by the FA) to a leading role in working with fans and others to
eradicate these behaviours
5. I recommend that the Government consider strengthening the penalties for football-related disorder, particularly behaviours which recklessly endanger lives and these penalties should be well understood and robustly enforced
The existing enforcement mechanisms available to the police and other enforcement officers do not offer enough deterrent against those determined to use the cover of football matches to commit criminal offences. Tailgating, for example, should become a criminal offence. Sanctions for those breaking into football stadiums and/ or recklessly endangering lives is weak.
It is welcomed by the Review that the Prime Minister has committed to making it possible to obtain a football banning order against a person convicted of online racist offences.
In light of expert advice provided to this Review by Daniel Greenberg CB, we recommend that the Home Office considers options for strengthening the legal framework surrounding football-related disorder, with a particular focus on addressing the weaknesses and gaps identified in this Review. Specifically, the Home Office should consider:
- ● ensuring that the FBO regime to ensure drugs-related disorderly behaviour is treated in the same way as alcohol-related disorder
- ● identifying a suitable legislative mechanism for deterring the practice of tailgating, such as through an expanded FBO regime or through the application of PNDs
- ● identifying a suitable legislative mechanism for a new offence of endangering public safety in a stadium through reckless behaviour, such as interfering with emergency doors, triggering fire alarms or damaging barriers and other safety infrastructure, with penalties comparable to those for endangering the safety of an aircraft
- ● Greater urgency to introduce the Online Safety Bill should be given as it is a real opportunity to stiffen penalties for racism and hate speech online
6. Recommendations specifically for the FA/Wembley and key partners
6.a The FA and Wembley should strengthen plans for safety both physical and human, ahead of any matches or events of significant risk. This should include but not be limited to:
- ● The physical fences and means of separating and filtering unticketed fans from those with legitimate access.
- ● Particular attention should be made to ensuring those entering through gates provided for wheelchair users and other more vulnerable members of society are not endangered by the reckless actions of others.
- ● A staff survey of all those involved with security, stewarding and safety on Euro Sunday so the FA can be doubly sure their views are taken into any future changes
- ● Security plans should be regularly peer reviewed by experienced safety and security professionals to ensure rigour
- ● The incoming Chair of the FA should
take steps to be sure that she and the FA Board have suitable oversight of
safety and security at Wembley Stadium
6.b. A more joined up approach between Wembley and the MPS is required to managing public safety on match-days, including joint tasking and debriefing of operational teams
6.c The key partners represented on the Wembley SAG, most notably the MPS, the FA and Brent Council, need to make a concerted effort to proactively solicit and listen to each other’s concerns and avoid any single agency from becoming too dominant.
CAROLYN DOWNS, BRENT COUNCIL CEO, RAISED CONCERNS AFTER THE GERMANY MATCH WITH THE MET POLICE MATCH COMMANDER AND CABINET COVID-19 TASK FORCE
A written submission from Brent Council to the Review indicates that as England progressed through the tournament, antisocial behaviour increased around the stadium. When England played Scotland, the council noticed ticketless fans gathering for the first time in the plaza at the end of Olympic Way. On the day of the following match, against the Czech Republic, the council issued 17 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) for public urination, street drinking and littering near the stadium.
The council’s concerns about fan behaviour inside and outside the stadium escalated significantly after England played Germany in the ‘round of 16’ with stadium capacity increased to 40,000. Some fans arrived in the morning without tickets and began drinking on Olympic Way outside the Co-op supermarket and Butlers convenience store. By the afternoon they were climbing on street furniture such as bins, benches and lamp posts, and throwing glass bottles in the air. The council subsequently issued 22 FPNs for public urination.
“People were buying crates of beer. That’s something that I hadn't seen before at Wembley (football games).” - Sports Ground Safety Authority official
Other ticketless fans gathered outside the White Horse pub and moved to the foot of the Spanish Steps during this match, prompting a Euro 2020 Fans Embassy representative to warn police there could be trouble unless this crowd was moved on.
Brent officials were now concerned about off-licence sales to supporters who could not get into pubs and bars to watch matches due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“We were concerned after the Scotland game but it was the Germany game that really worried us. People were openly saying they had no tickets. They were partying until 6pm. None of this is normal for Wembley.” - Brent Council official
Brent Council chief executive Carolyn Downs was sufficiently concerned about the gathering of crowds around the White Horse and on Olympic Way to speak to the MPS Match Commander after the match and request they ensure officers move them on. In addition, Downs asked her staff to explore options to stop shops selling alcohol completely if England progressed in the tournament. Her team believed that they did not have that power and that it would be for the police to apply to a magistrates court.
Downs was sufficiently concerned about the disorder surrounding the Germany game on 29 June to raise it not only with her own staff but with the Cabinet Office and MPS.
On 30 June, a meeting of senior government officials was convened by the Cabinet Office’s Covid-19 Taskforce. The meeting’s purpose was solely Covid-19 related, and was not due to consider any other issues regarding the tournament. Downs, however, used the meeting to raise her concerns about fan behaviour outside Wembley when England had played Germany. Downs told the meeting that the atmosphere had been “toxic” and the council was unhappy about ticketless fans gathering by the stadium. The chief executive of the Sports Ground Safety Authority also expressed his concerns about fan behaviour, having witnessed “trampolining” on empty seats covered with UEFA branded tarpaulins.
Though the MPS were not invited to this meeting, Downs repeated her views about the toxic atmosphere to a senior MPS officer later that day.
The following day (1 July) the Wembley Safety Advisory Group (WSAG) met at the request of Downs to discuss Brent and the SGSA’s concerns ahead of the semi-final matches. Safety Advisory Groups (SAG) meet in order to consider events at a stadium or sports ground which present a significant public safety risk. Though advisory by nature, a SAG is typically chaired by the local council which issues a stadium with the safety certificate it needs in order to operate. Prior to the tournament, the Wembley SAG met on 18 March and 4 June to discuss tournament preparations.
At this meeting it was clear that the MPS were angry not to have been invited to the Cabinet Office ‘challenge session’ on 30 June as a delivery partner. They had feedback from the Home Office which they believed questioned their operational independence. This was unfortunate as it set the tone for the WSAG on 1 July.
A video recording of the 1 July WSAG, chaired by Brent Council’s Director of Community Safety and attended by officials from the FA, Wembley, the SGSA, the MPS and Brent, makes it clear there was shared concern that the levels of intoxication within the stadium had become unprecedented.
An SGSA official present at England's game against Germany told the meeting they “had never seen behaviour like it...They were all drunk on the concourse, you know, there was beer going everywhere.” The official described persistent standing around the stadium as “dreadful”, and concluded that the prospect of similar behaviour if England reached the semi-finals, with a larger number of fans inside the stadium, was “really, really frightening”.
A Brent Council official recounted intervening personally to prevent a drunken fan falling from the parapet of level 5 while celebrating an England goal. They concluded: “As for the drunkenness and spillage...I've been in the stadium for a number of years, and I haven't seen that kind of mess or behaviour.”
Stadium records seen by the Review show that 56 people required medical treatment during the match against Germany, with people taken to hospital for drunkenness, injuries suffered when falling down steps, and heart problems.
The Wembley officials agreed that fan behaviour had changed from before the pandemic, but described it as “jubilant”. One told the meeting: “I do think we do have to take into account we've never, ever faced anything on the back of a pandemic. And I definitely feel that there is a release that happened on that day.”
The stadium promised to increase stewarding on level 5 in the semi-finals again by redeploying staff from outside the stadium following kick-off. Drinks per person were further reduced, from four pints to two.
However, the SGSA official expressed a preference for a total alcohol ban if England reached the semi-finals, to prevent fans injuring themselves seriously. They told the meeting: “I have never seen that behaviour at Wembley before. And, you know, there is no way you can deal with that behaviour.”
When the meeting discussed fan behaviours outside the stadium, the MPS Silver Commander for Euro 2020 did not agree with the view that the atmosphere was toxic when England played Germany. Their information was that the England fans were “exuberant and happy'' and that the atmosphere was no different from other high stakes football matches at Wembley, such as a play off final. He concluded that the police were preparing for “more of the same” behaviour should England progress to the semi-finals.
Nobody at the WSAG challenged the MPS’ position, despite the council and the SGSA having different opinions.
Nor did anybody at the meeting attempt to reconcile the police view that there was nothing unusual about what was happening outside the stadium with the concerns strongly expressed about the unprecedented fan behaviour inside the stadium.
The meeting concluded with an agreement to support the MPS Silver Commander in asking for a larger number of police officers for future matches. The MPS subsequently added in an extra TSG unit of 33 officers inside Wembley on top of the two TSG units. The MPS told the Review that this decision reflected concerns about the adequacy of stewarding within the stadium.
The MPS told the Review that it debriefed after each match at Wembley, fed back to the WSAG and increased officer numbers there steadily through the tournament and tasked them to be more assertive in moving on fans who gathered outside the stadium.