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Tackling football policing on our trains - Channel 4 Dispatches goes undercover with BTP

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On Monday, Channel 4 Dispatches will show the challenges and pressures faced by BTP every single week, as officers help police football fans as they journey to games across the country.

In the last three football seasons alone, BTP has spent nearly £16m on policing the journeys of fans to the 134 professional football teams in England, Scotland and Wales.

Filming undercover, “Dispatches: Trouble on the Trains” captured a number of incidents of verbal abuse and hate crime – documenting how BTP investigated the offences and pursued the offenders.

Chief Constable Paul Crowther said: “A big part of our job at BTP is helping to move large numbers of people across the rail network – to concerts, evenings out, and to and from work each day.

“But what this Dispatches shows is that we are spending a disproportionate amount of time chaperoning grown adults around the country who are behaving badly, singing racist chants and being abusive to other passengers.

“This type of behaviour is not something that anyone should have to accept. At best, it is intimidating to other people on the trains and at the stations – and at worst, it is hate crime.”

In the last three years, BTP has recorded more than 2,300 football related incidents and the average cost of policing fans travelling to football fixtures is around £5 million a year.

Chief Constable Crowther said: “We have worked to establish what drives bad behaviour – as many of the people we come across would not behave in the same way during the week, they have full time jobs and families. We found that it was a mix of tribalism, a feeling of anonymity within large groups and a “what goes on tour, stays on tour” mentality.

“What this programme shows is that we are working on breaking down those beliefs. It shows that we will doggedly investigate, using CCTV on trains and platforms, body worn video, mobile phone footage and overt tactics to bring people to justice. We’ll do what we can to ensure they are prosecuted and, where necessary, ensure they can no longer go to football fixtures.

“We also would like to see a consistent approach from football clubs to take collective responsibility for these fans and will continue working with the rail industry to penalise those who behave badly, and offer incentives for those who do not.

“It’s not ok to chant racist slurs because you’re “out with the lads”, it’s not ok to be abusive because you had “one too many” and we’re going to make sure people know that.”

If you ever need BTP, please call 0800 40 50 40 or text 61016 – the text goes straight through to our control room.

Throughout the day on Monday, BTP will be taking questions from the public on football policing. To ask a question, or follow the discussion, follow #AskBTP on Twitter.

Dispatches: Trouble on the Trains is on Channel 4, Monday at 8pm.

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