Force retracts claim that football fans had ‘knives and knuckledusters’

Sussex Police has apologised to two Premier League clubs and the supporters for “falsely” claiming that “pyrotechnics, knives and knuckledusters” had been confiscated at their derby clash last month.

Dec 8, 2017

Sussex Police has apologised to two Premier League clubs and the supporters for “falsely” claiming that “pyrotechnics, knives and knuckledusters” had been confiscated at their derby clash last month. Two stewards were hospitalised following disorder at Brighton and Hove Albion’s home match against Crystal Palace, which the force said resembled a “return to the dark days of football”. Match commander Chief Inspector Simon Nelson said “groups of masked hooligans” were on the lookout for confrontation and attempted to gain entry to the Amex Stadium on November 28. A large number of people, believed not to have had tickets, overran the turnstiles in the south stand to gain access to the away supporters’ section, where several flares were set off throughout the match. Six people were arrested, and two stewards were taken to hospital – one of whom suffered three fractured ribs. Both were discharged later that night. Disturbances also broke out at Brighton railway station as fans became frustrated that they were going to miss the start of the match due to train delays. Six minutes into the match – which ended as a goalless draw – the stadium’s turnstiles were closed, leaving some fans with legitimate tickets locked outside the ground. After the match, Chief Insp Nelson said it was the “most challenging football-related disorder” he has ever experienced. “I have been involved in football policing at all levels and have been a match commander for Albion matches for 12 years, but I have never come across such concerted attempts to cause disorder and engage in violent behaviour. “This was a return to the dark days of football and is not acceptable,” he said. The post-match force statement added: “Outside the stadium, we dealt with a number of public order incidents, particularly amongst a contingent of away supporters who were being escorted from the railway station.? “We are aware that a significant number of people attempted to enter the ground with pyrotechnics, knives and knuckledusters, which were found following efforts to gain access through fire exit doors in the south stand.” However, statements from both Brighton and Hove Albion and Crystal Palace failed to make mention of any weapons being discovered. AndFive Year Plan, a Palace fanzine, asked the force if it had any evidence of the existence of the weapons. On Friday (December 8), Sussex Police made a full withdrawal of the claims. The force told Police Professional: “The reference to weapons being found discarded at the stadium following the Brighton v Crystal Palace match on November 28 was based on information logged by our officers on the night and done so in good faith. “Subsequently, it has been established that no such items were physically recovered at the stadium or in the city. We accept that this information was incorrect and the tweet published earlier on December 7 by one of our officers was wrong. “Sussex Police apologises to both clubs and their supporters.” Five Year Plan`s editor, Robert Sutherland, said: “Crystal Palace fans are a passionate group. We are proud of our positive support. The implication that our fans would carry potentially deadly weapons into a football stadium was a smear that needed to be challenged. “Football fans already have a bad reputation, often unfounded – it should not be further trashed by unsubstantiated assertions like this one.? “I am delighted that Sussex Police have apologised for their false statements. Further questions should be asked about the checks that the police force went through to establish the facts prior to making this statement. Clearly in this case, any process they should have followed failed.” Kamar Jamal, 30, and Mark Kentfield, 41, were both charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm of distress. Michael Shaw, 45, was charged with being a football spectator failing to comply with a banning order. All t

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