A FOOTBALL fans’ group says it wants to hear from any Pompey supporters who were herded into a nightclub by police.
Up to 200 Portsmouth fans were frogmarched into Fever nightclub in Shrewsbury before the final game of the League One season the Saturday before last.
They were kept there until coaches arrived to take them to the Greenhous Meadow ground, and could only leave the nightclub with a police escort.
Only three arrests were made on the day and police hailed the operation a success.
But the Football Supporters’ Federation is furious about the treatment dished out to fans – and says it may have been illegal.
Now its director of casework Amanda Jacks wants to hear from fans who were ‘kettled’ into the club – as evidence may form part of a case against West Mercia Police.
‘In my view this was completely unwarranted,’ said Ms Jacks.
‘If they had firm intelligence there would be trouble they should have acted on it, not taken everybody into a nightclub.’
Ms Jacks said that she had spoken to a solicitor about the incident, and said that it is possible that the police have acted unlawfully.
She also said that in general the federation is worried that the police are taking a heavy-handed approach to fans – and that misdeeds of the past are being used as an excuse to ride roughshod over the law.
Pompey fan Richard Palmer, from Petersfield, said he felt supporters’ civil liberties had been curtailed.
The 52-year-old said: ‘When we got off the train a few of us needed the loo.
‘There was quite a long queue and when we came out after 10 minutes the big group of Pompey fans from the train with us had disappeared. It seemed a bit strange and we wondered what was going on.
‘It wasn’t until afterwards we learned what happened.
‘According to those involved they were forced to march to a nightclub and that’s where they had to stay until they were taken to the game.
‘According to their evidence there were people in there with kids and the police were saying they couldn’t leave to get food or cash without an escort.
‘They were effectively held under some sort of arrest.’
Mr Palmer said there would have been no threat of violence or disorder from Pompey fans who were happy that the club had been bought by the Pompey Supporters’ Trust, and that the game had no bearing on the already-relegated club’s fate.
Fans reported they had a police escort on the coach to the ground with seven or eight officers on board. The only option was to get on a coach to the ground which had a motorcycle escort.
Mr Palmer added: ‘This to me seems an outrageous breach of civil liberties.’
A West Mercia Police spokesman said: ‘The operation was based on information and intelligence and sought to ensure genuine fans from both Portsmouth and Shrewsbury were able to enjoy the game without unwanted inconvenience from a minority of individuals who wished to engage in disorder.
‘West Mercia Police always strives to ensure its responsibility to both residents and fans is balanced against its duty to prevent crime and disorder.
‘The success of this operation was reflected in the fact that only three arrests were made following the game.’
· Anyone who wants to report their treatment to the Football Supporters’ Federation can email firstname.lastname@example.org