Statement from ACC Critchley
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ACC Ian Critchley has provided the following statement following suggestions that Merseyside Police kept fans apart prior to the game.
He said: "It has been suggested that the force kept Liverpool and Everton fans apart prior to the game – this simply wasn’t the case. Approximately 1000 Everton fans were escorted from the pubs around Goodison to Anfield. We do this for every European match, where there is a walk up from the city centre, to ensure the safety of visiting fans. That means approximately 7000 other away fans made their way to the ground under their own steam. Many of whom were with family and friends who invariably support both teams. There simply was no segregation.
"In the weeks before the game a Safety Advisory Group was held, with all partners, to consider all aspects of safety for this match.
"Full consultation was also carried out by Merseyside Police with both clubs and other partners.
"On the day of the game, as agreed in consultation with the clubs and Liverpool City Council, the fans who walked up from the Goodison side of the ground were held, at the request of stewards on Anfield Road, to stagger the movement of this substantial group to the stadium so we could control the numbers of people who were making their way to the turnstiles and ensure the safety of those attending the game.
"Some people may not be aware that on 4th December, we dealt with a number of queuing issues at the away turnstiles when the two clubs played each other in the league match – this was debriefed with the clubs and fan groups on 12 December and they were advised that we needed to put things in place so we could safely manage treble the number of fans who would be attending the game.
"The clubs also reconfirmed the arrangements with the fan groups following the debrief and Merseyside Police published the plans on its website and through the media ahead of the game to ensure that fans understood that the policing measures that would be used on the day had been put in place to ensure the safety of all supporters, as well as local residents, on the day of the game. A further debrief following the game on 5 January will be held later this month and again the supporters clubs have been invited.
"The collective paramount consideration was the safety of all those attending.
"This was the focus of much of our planning carried out by ourselves and the two football clubs leading up to the match. In none of our decision making was 'segregation', as has been suggested, a consideration, or resulting action.
"The movement of the foodbank in advance of the game was arranged by the club to facilitate safe movement of away fans.
"In addition, we authorisd a dispersal zone to prevent disorder before it happened. The use of a dispersal zone ensures we are able to deal effectively with the very small number of fans who may cause trouble and protect the majority of the fantastic football loving members of the public from both sides.
"We asked the fans to arrive early, they listened and did just that. Most importantly nearly every single fan was safely in the ground at 3.50pm.
Safety is, and always will be our focus, and was the case for this game.
I would like to reiterate that Merseyside Police works tirelessly to protect and serve the public everyday putting the communities of Merseyside first in everything we do and the Derby on the 5th January 2020 was no exception."