Did The Police Get West Ham vs Millwall Wrong?

The most glib response that one can give to the issue of football hooliganism is to say that it has simply gone away for good. Anybody that regularly goes to matches will know fully well that it is constantly there, bubbling away under the surface and waiting for an opportunity to raise its head. As clubs, the game’s authorities and the police themselves are often more than eager to tell us, the success that has been had in tackling the issue in and around stadia – the area in which there is no dispute that clubs have to take responsibility for the behaviour of those claiming to support the clubs – has been largely due to more sophisticated stewarding and policing methods. The days of penning people in, caging them up and hoping for the best ended with Hillsborough. Policing attitudes, they tell us, have changed. Or did they? We’ve written on here about the police treatment of football supporters several times over the last three¬† years, with incidents involving Stoke City and Sunderland supporters recently making headlines for police decisions that have given the impression of ranging from something approaching contempt for travelling supporters to decisions that have seemed to betray a lack of experience and complacency in dealing with potentially troublesome situations.¬† It is not implausible to argue that these factors – contempt and complacency – were...

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