Statement issued following Premier League gathering in Liverpool
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Throughout the last week, we have been working alongside Liverpool Football Club, Liverpool City Council, public health and Spirit of Shankly to consistently remind people that COVID-19 has not gone away. Our region is still disproportionately affected by the virus and therefore we have actively tried to dissuade members of the public coming together for any Premier League victory celebrations.
Despite our joint efforts, several thousand people turned up at the Pier Head from late yesterday afternoon and a large number of them stayed until the early hours of the morning (Friday, 26 June).
Prior to yesterday afternoon there was no intelligence to suggest this was going to happen at the Pier Head.
Chief Constable Andy Cooke, explained: “At about 4.30pm a number of people had turned up at the Pier Head and that number quickly swelled to 1,000 people.
“Due to rapidly increasing numbers, our officers had to close the side roads leading down to the Pier Head from The Strand for public safety.
“When it comes to policing mass gatherings, or other public order events, the safety of the public is paramount in our decision making. Yesterday the crowd consisted of families with children and we also had to be cognisant of the fact that the area is surrounded by water and what we could actually physically do without making the situation even worse.
“For that reason, it would not have been right to go in with a heavy handed approach. It is disappointing that people did not listen to communications that we have been putting out with Liverpool Football Club and Liverpool City Council asking people not to turn up because of the risks still posed by COVID-19. So sadly, the good natured actions of the majority in attendance were marred by some people intent on committing crime and anti-social behaviour.
“During the evening, the actions of some of those in attendance, who were setting off flares and fireworks, resulted in fire on a balcony of the Liver building which had to be put out by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. An investigation is now underway to find the person/s responsible for this careless and disrespectful behaviour, which put themselves and those around them in danger. We will be working with the Merseyside Fire and Rescue to and Liverpool City Council in relation to the illegal sale and use of fireworks to prevent incidents like this from occurring again.”
Chief Constable Cooke continued: “One man was arrested for assault after another man suffered head injuries. The injured male was taken to hospital where he remains in a serious condition. Two officers also suffered minor injuries after missiles were thrown at them by people in the crowd.
“The crowds dispersed from the Pier Head at around 1:30am. But soon after there were reports of further crowd issues in other parts of the city centre. Officers intervened but again missiles were thrown at them.
“In total 15 people, at the Pier Head and in the city centre, were arrested for various offences including public order offences, drunk and disorderly and affray.
“I cannot stress enough that these gatherings put an unnecessary strain on our emergency services and could mean that we might not be able to get to other people who really need us.”
Chief Constable Cooke added: “In the coming days we will be reviewing CCTV and Body Worn Camera footage to identify those involved in criminal and anti social behaviour last night and we will be issuing images through the media to find those responsible. I would urge anyone who has any information about those involved to contact us.
“Section 34 Dispersal Zones have been implemented in Liverpool City Centre, Woolton Village, Stanley Park, Pier Head, New Brighton, Springfield Park/East Prescot Road and Ruskin Drive St Helens until tomorrow (28th June) to prevent any criminality or anti-social behaviour following recent gatherings.
“We are still in a public health crisis and we need to work together with the public of Merseyside to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
“In some areas of Merseyside, crowds have ignored advice to observe social distancing and to avoid gathering in large groups. You can familiarise yourself with the latest Government advice here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do
“The potential danger of a second peak still exists and we need to work together to make sure we don’t undo everything we have achieved as a region during lockdown.
“The Government has made it clear this week that if people continue to ignore guidelines around mass gatherings, whether they be at beaches or beauty spots, or for celebrations like we saw last night and the night before in Liverpool, then they have the ability to close down public spaces and will close areas if necessary.
“We all understand that fans want to celebrate, but now is not the time. For the good of your city, your club and most importantly those who are at highest risk of dying from this disease, stay at home and keep others safe.”
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “An occasion for celebration has been turned instead into headlines of disgraceful behaviour. Our city is, rightly, proud of the phenomenal success of one of our football teams. But the time for public celebration in crowds is not now.
“Our city remains in the grip of a major public health crisis and this behaviour is wholly unacceptable. Let me be clear – lives are at risk.
“Seeing thousands of people congregating at the Pier Head into the early hours and the ugly scenes shared on social media afterwards was heart breaking to see. Fireworks, flares and tons of litter, amount to nothing but disrespect for our city.
“This mindless behaviour has the potential to damage Liverpool’s reputation – both the club’s and the city. I don’t believe this is how the team would like their achievement to be remembered.
“We know that many fans want to gather together to celebrate LFC’s success, and when it is safe to do so we will mark the team’s success properly. We will celebrate. And we will come together and cheer Klopp, Henderson and the rest of the team through the streets of Liverpool.
“But we will do it when it is safe. We must avoid another spike of Covid-19 if possible. We must save lives and protect the hard-working NHS staff and care workers we are all so proud of. If you know anyone who is planning to go out, like a friend or a family member, ask them to think again.
“Let’s instead celebrate safely. Let’s applaud Liverpool for their scintillating football. Let’s remember the values of this city – pride, togetherness and integrity.”
Deputy Chief Executive for North West Ambulance Service (NWAS), Mick Forrest said: “Not only are gatherings on this scale a breach of current government guidelines, they can have tragic consequences and put unnecessary strain on emergency services and the NHS.
“Mass gathering events are usually stringently planned and organised with emergency services and other partners to ensure they are as safe as possible for everybody attending. Without the correct safety measures in place they can quickly become extremely dangerous.
“We understand that football fans want to celebrate Liverpool FC’s Premier League title win but we must urge them to do so safely and continue to adhere to government guidelines.”
Anyone that has any further information on flares that were set alight last night, who threw a firework at the Liver Building, or any other criminal incident that may have occurred last night is urged to get in touch so we can investigate and bring the offenders to justice. Message us @MerPolCC or contact @CrimestoppersUK anonymously.