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Large groups fuelled by passion and alcohol can be a recipe for violence and getting caught up in such a situation can be as frightening as any combat zone. The gangs are often hierarchical and incidents can be instigated by dedicated ringleaders or people intent on making trouble to provoke a reaction from opposing fans or even the police. Camera crews could be a target for attack.
Football crowds are notoriously unpredictable; a relatively calm situation can quickly turn into a riot or stampede. Equally an overreaction by the police can cause the situation to escalate.
So do not become the story, if you do not need to be there then leave.
Be aware of the signs of a deteriorating situation:
- An increase in the noise level.
- A change in the tension or mood of the crowd.
- Sudden crowd surges.
- The occasional missile thrown.
- More aggressive behaviour vocally or physically.
- The police adopting a more aggressive posture, perhaps with the donning of helmets and shields or restricting the crowd’s freedom of movement.
- Deployment of additional Police assets such as water cannons, specialist vehicles, riot police, horses etc.
Some DO’s and DON’Ts:
- Try to cover the story from a safe position, perhaps a
or from a distance. high point
- Keep your back against a wall or something substantial so you do not have to concern yourself about events behind you.
- Work with a colleague or in a group for mutual support.
- Keep constantly aware of what is occurring around you.
- Ensure you have an escape route and plan of where you will go to in an emergency.
- Avoid getting caught up in the centre of a crowd where escape is difficult. You are unlikely to get good pictures from inside a crowd.
- Do not position yourself between the Police and the crowd.
- Distance yourself from violent attacks.
- Do not become a target and stay ‘streetwise’.
- Clothing – loose clothing can be more easily grabbed. Ensure every pocket is secured as there is sure to be a thief in the crowd.
- Carry as little as possible. Bags are easy to grab and will make hard to maintain balance.
- Stay on your feet at all costs.
- Try to conceal any cameras / recording equipment as best you can when in a crowd.
- The influence of alcohol can lead to violence so be aware in and around bars.
- Consider your profile and try to portray anonymity in terms of where you are from and what you do e.g. remove logo’s from clothing.
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