Lancashire Police give statement after North End supporters slam policing at Blackpool match
Lancashire Police has responded to criticism from both North End and Blackpool supporters about the way it handled the match at Bloomfield Road yesterday (Saturday, October 23).
PNE supporters were quick to criticise Lancashire Police' s handling of their match-day visit, with some branding it "an absolute shambles" and the "worst policing of a football match ever".
Some visiting fans were held on coaches until after kick-off, causing them to miss the start of the Lancashire derby match, whilst others say they were 'kettled' outside the ground and diverted through a maze of side-streets to avoid confrontation with Blackpool fans.
Efforts to keep rival fans apart led police to carve out a route for the visitors but the diversions reportedly led them straight into the path of oncoming Blackpool supporters making their way to the ground.
You can read the reaction from both Preston North End and Blackpool FC supporters here.
In a statement this afternoon, the force has addressed concerns and anger over its policing response to the match at Bloomfield Road.
In response, assistant chief constable Pete Lawson said: "Planning for the game had been taking place for several weeks and as always the priority throughout was the safety of those attending.
"We appreciate that the majority of people simply want to enjoy their day and have no interest in causing trouble.
"However there was a minority of supporters who were actively looking for opportunities to start violent confrontations with opposing fans, but thankfully having robust resources in place ensured this was prevented before, during and after the game."
He added: "We appreciate that many people may have felt inconvenienced by aspects of the operation – being directed to take a slightly longer route back to their car park, for example.
"However we wish to make clear that our actions were carefully planned and decisions such as these were taken to ensure that those people who were intent on causing trouble were unable to come into contact with other similar groups or individuals, which would also have put innocent members of the public at risk.
"We would like to thank supporters for their understanding. Although a minority of people attended without peaceful intentions, the operation finished with no injuries and only a small number of arrests for alcohol-related and public order offences.
"We now plan to look into those isolated incidents of disorder and will deal with those involved over the coming days and weeks."