Football Liaison Unit
Our Football Liaison Unit are a team of officers whose job it is to help keep football fans and members of the public safe during football-related events.
The team is made up of eight officers including a special constable, and is led by a sergeant.
The unit’s role is a mixture of intelligence gathering and liaison to support the management of “risk supporters”. These are supporters that are actively involved in disorder or antisocial behaviour prior to, during, or after football matches.
There are approximately 70 risk supporters affiliated to York, although not all attend every game. The team get to know them and can “spot” them early on to deter them from their disorder activities. They also gather intelligence for forthcoming matches so the police can deploy the appropriate resources.
PC Jon Bostiwck is a response officer based in York and has taken on additional football liaison duties. He said: “We get to know our risk supporters – they know us and we know them. They could be planning something – which usually begins in a pub somewhere – we appear in the pub, they see us and they know that it’s game over.
“It can also work in their favour and they are sometimes relieved to see us. One time we were at an away game and a group of York supporters came to us for help. They were trying to get to the train station but were being set upon by rival fans. We were able to escort them to the station safely.
“We work every home match at York, but also travel to away fixtures where we are asked to attend by the host police force involved.
“Part of the role is liaising with all supporters so we attend York supporters’ group meetings – it helps that they know who we are and what we do. We also have a good relationship with York City staff and liaise closely with the match safety officer for each game whether that’s at home or away.”
Each match is graded as to the level of security required. This can range from a steward only match to one that requires a major police presence. It largely depends on what team York are playing. It’s rare for York City to require the highest security level.