Metropolitan Police Federation

“There were far too many people in Wembley area for an 8pm kick off… it’s always my colleagues who face the brunt of thuggish morons who want to behave in this way. We dealt with it very quickly.”

Chairman Ken Marsh was on BBC World at One on Radio 4 discussing the disgraceful scenes we saw around the Euro 2020 final this past weekend and the appalling attacks on our colleagues.

Here is the full transcript.

Sarah Montague (SM): Ken Marsh is Chair of the [Metropolitan] Police Federation that represents officers and he told me Wembley was responsible for what went wrong.

Ken Marsh (KM): Wembley is a private premises. We do no police private premises. We used to police within Premiership games and Wembley etc, but they have to start paying for it. They didn’t want to pay the money that was required so they brought in private security companies. So when you take the game that took place on Sunday, by the time we had it brought to our attention that several thousand people were trying to force their way in, it was too late for us because we were on the wrong side of them and unable to repel them from doing so. Now, we had flagged this up previously because there were far too many people within the area of Wembley for an 8pm kick-off. There were tens of thousands floating about. It was unprecedented numbers. By the time it was brought to our attention then it was too late, then the blame starts and we get the blame.

SM: But the area isn’t private premises. The area…

KM: No.

SM: …is just a part of North-West London that surely the police should have responsibility for.

KM: And we did. 100%. We had total responsibility for the areas outside. There were hundreds of police officers in place and dealing with quite lively crowds. When the breach took place we were on the wrong side of these individuals because we weren’t in the stadium. How do you want us to repel them when we’re the wrong side of them? It’s not possible.

SM: Did the police say to Wembley, ‘Look, there’s an awful lot of people out here. Are you ready?’. And what did Wembley say to you?

KM: I’m sure, having the experience in policing that I have, that that was happening and those discussions were happening, but clearly nothing was done about that. What Wembley should have done, I would have thought, at that stage was to say, ‘Right, we’re struggling to deal with the levels of people outside before they come in. Let’s ask policing to step in and assist us in this way’. That didn’t take place so, as I said, my colleagues were the faced with a situation, ‘We’re behind you, not in front of you’.

SM: There were though problems when people were leaving the stadium. This isn’t to do with a crush, this is to do with criminality of people when they were leaving who said there just weren’t enough police around. Do you accept that there were not the police numbers there should have been?

KM: No I don’t accept that. The problem being there were plenty of police. We had lots of police on, all leave was cancelled for that day, but when you have the surges in the way that we had and the heightened level of angst that was amongst the people coming out, for the obvious reasons, it made a kind of toxic component that was very difficult in pockets for my colleagues to deal with. Bear in mind it’s always my colleagues that face the brunt of thuggish morons who want to behave in this way. It’s absolutely unacceptable, what took place, and we dealt with it very quickly and 30 odd of my colleagues were injured in the wake of it.

SM: How many do you think did get into Wembley who shouldn’t have done, because Wembley Stadium originally denied there was a problem and then on Monday the Met said that it was a small number of ticketless fans. But now we’re hearing talk of thousands.

KM: And I would have to agree with that. You’ve only got to look at the videos and the footage that’s out there and my colleagues who were on the ground watching it take place and I would say at least a couple of thousand.

SM: So when it comes to the fact that, for example, we’re bidding for the World Cup in a few years’ time, could Wembley handle that?

KM: There has to be some conversations, very serious conversations, take place very soon around the policing of Wembley and the paying for such things. Bearing in mind we’re talking about them generating tens of millions of pounds. They have to pay correctly for the correct policing and we can deal with it quite easily as we always have done. If they’d stayed with the format they have I can foresee problems and I can see it becoming an issue in terms of the bid, yes.

SM: Do you think there’s also a problem with the design of Wembley Way and will that need to be changed in future?

KM: I’m not sure there’s a problem with the design of it. I think the conversations that need to take place are with Wembley and the police. The police need to be brought back into the inner circle of policing it so that then we can take command and take control of what is required very quickly. In rapid time we can deal with what’s in front of us. If the command suite have total control of the event then it’s very easy to deal with. If we’re outside, looking in, and then called in, it’s not easy because you saw how it unfolded.

SM: When you’re thinking about thousands of people getting in without tickets, possibly without Covid tests, and getting into the stadium, was there a possibility that it could actually have been a lot worse?

KM: Absolutely. If you have unsearched, unscreened individuals, en masse, entering, then you’re talking about terrorism, you’re talking about non-Covid track and trace. It beggars belief. I thank God that we ended up in the situation that we didn’t have a major incident because it could have quite easily happened.