'Worst football violence in more than 20 years at Villa Park' – Federation chief
The deputy chair of the West Midlands Police Federation said violence outside Villa Park last night was the worst officers had seen at a football match in more than two decades.
Jase Dooley praised the efforts of the officers on duty who were faced with serious disorder ahead of Aston Villa’s European game with Legia Warsaw, and said the federation was there to support any member following the violence.
West Midlands Police officers were attacked with missiles and flares. A number of officers were injured, with one taken to hospital with burn injuries after being hit by a flare while another suffered a suspected broken hand.
Two police horses were punched and kicked, and several police dogs were also injured walking on broken glass after bottles were thrown at police. They’re not thought to be seriously hurt.
Mr Dooley said: “There are a lot of officers who have been injured in one way or another. One of our officers has been burnt with a flare and one has a suspected broken hand.
“They did a really good job in the face of sustained violence from people intent on disorder.
“Our colleagues from Thames Valley Police horse section said they haven’t seen violence like it in a very long time – I’ve got 28 years experience and used to be on the operational support unit, and I’ve not seen anything like that since the turn of the century.”
He said there was a significant police presence at the game based on intelligence and previous match day disorder involving Legia Warsaw fans.
“West Midlands Police did a really good job in briefing officers, telling them what to expect, the way they had the officer numbers in force,” he said. “It was just unprecedented violence from people who were intent on causing injury to anybody,” he added
A total of 46 people were this morning in custody, and Mr Dooley said dealing with them would take valuable resources away from other areas of policing.
He said: “Our investigation teams were working extremely hard until the early hours of this morning and they’re all back on shift again today.”
“We’ve had to pull resources from everywhere who could be doing something so much better with their time than dealing with mindless hooligans, and this is affecting other operations.
“The thin blue line is stretched that little bit thinner today, and community policing is going to be suffering because of these thugs.”
And Jase encouraged members who were on duty at the game to speak to their reps and seek the support of the Federation if they needed it.
“We have a lot of young officers in the Force and most of them wouldn’t have seen anything like that before, and some senior officers as well won’t have experienced it before,” he said.
“The Federation is here if you need to speak to anyone. Any rep will be able to talk to them."
Jase added: “We had support from other forces outside of the West Midlands last night and we’ll be working with those branch boards to ensure their members are supported.”