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Lancashire Police to investigate Stoke fans’ pepper spray claims at Preston North End match

Footage appearing to show police using spray on fans which appeared on social media.
Footage appearing to show police using spray on fans which appeared on social media.
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A formal police investigation is to take place after it appeared officers pepper-sprayed Stoke City fans during their match with Preston North End yesterday.

A video put out on social media appears to show a number police officers spraying fans in the concourse at Deepdale at the half-time interval.

It is reported that Stoke City will ask Lancashire Police for an explanation.

READ MORE: What is pepper spray - and is it legal in the UK?

Lancashire police say they will launch a formal investigation after they confirmed they were aware of an incident at the match which finished 2-2.

In a statement, Lancashire Police said: “There was an incident of disorder inside the stadium involving a number of Stoke supporters, who were attempting to forcibly exit the stadium.

“Officers deployed were faced with many aggressive fans and used proportionate force to protect themselves and ensure the disorderly fans did not spill out into the surrounding area.

“As a result of this action, the situation was quickly brought under control and all fans returned to the stadium, where they watched the match without further disruption.”

PC Paul Elliot, Preston’s football officer, apologised to “innocent fans caught up in this incident” in a post on social media.

He said there will be a post-match debrief on Tuesday and has asked Stoke supporters to send their observations and video footage. A representative from the Football Supporters’ Federation has also been invited to a meeting.

The BBC reported that Stoke told BBC Sport they are “aware” of the footage.

“We are aware of the footage which appears to show some of our fans being pepper sprayed and will be asking Lancashire Police for their comments,” Stoke said.

The organisation reported that Angela Smith, chair of Stoke City’s supporters council, said: “Stoke does not condone any violence from supporters or any undue aggravation caused by anybody concerned with the football club.”

One Stoke fan on Twitter claimed the police response was “diabolical”, and added that children were caught up in the incident.

Meanwhile, British Transport Police posted on social media to say an “exchange of punches” between Stoke and Preston fans at Preston train station is also being investigated.