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Councillor grills Caroline Henry over football violence issues affecting the city

Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has been accused of not taking concerns over violence before Nottingham Forest games seriously enough.

Cllr Michael Edwards (Lab) had asked the Commissioner, Caroline Henry, for an investigation to be launched at a Police and Crime Panel meeting in March.

Cllr Edwards said he was concerned some incidents may be linked to a rise in cocaine use among some football supporters.

But when he asked again at a panel meeting on Monday, June 6, he accused Mrs Henry of not properly looking into the issue.

Cllr Edwards was referring to a number of violent incidents before and after Nottingham Forest games this year, and reports from pub security staff that drug use before games is an increasing problem among a minority of home and away fans.

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Cllr Edwards said one security guard at a pub had told him “lots of Vaseline” needs to be applied to the level surfaces in the toilets to ensure people don’t use the drug.

Notts Police’s Chief Constable says there is no ‘tanglible link’ officers are aware of between incidents and a rise in drug use.

The Police and Crime Panel, held at County Hall, offers a chance for councillors and independent members to hold the Police and Crime Commissioner to account.

The exchange between Cllr Edwards and Conservative Mrs Henry took place at the June 6 meeting.

Cllr Edwards asked Mrs Henry: “What is your understanding on what is happening with football violence?”

She said: “I am sorry I am not an expert on football violence. You potentially linked it to drugs, but it is not something I personally know about.”

Mrs Henry’s crime plan talks about tackling drugs and serious violence, and outlines how strategic task forces will deal with anti-social behaviour.

Cll Edwards said: “The surprise for me is the formality you have set up in your relationships with the police is whether it is losing you the opportunity just to find out what is actually going on,” he said.

“I raised it at the last meeting, I have raised it again, and I think by now you should have some kind of perception on what is happening with football violence.”

Mrs Henry said she had been at police briefings before the matches and had been out with both police officers and senior leaders.

Cllr Edwards said: “Then what is your view? What is happening with football violence? Do we have a situation that is new, challenging or not?”

“I am not an expert on football violence,” she added.

Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police, Craig Guildford, then said there had been a few cases nationally that had hit the headlines.

“From our prospective, planning-wise, we have not seen a real tangible link that I can point to, but from an operational prospective we always plan in the resources against the risk.

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“All the matches are risk assessed. I am really looking forward to some Premier League football in Nottingham and yes it will put additional burdens upon Nottinghamshire Police but it is burdens we welcome with open arms because it is brilliant news for the city.”

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