The Metropolitan Police have recruited a specialist officer to focus on hate crime in football – as a direct result of a Sky Sports News investigation.
In a special documentary which aired just before Christmas, Sky Sports News highlighted the country’s first football-specific hate crime police officer, PC Stuart Ward in the West Midlands.
Sky Sports News was given exclusive access to PC Ward’s work over several months, with behind-the-scenes footage of a number of live police investigations, and police operations at games within the Premier League and EFL.
Sky Sports News reported the first jailing of a supporter found guilty of racially abusing a footballer online.
The Metropolitan Police have told Sky Sports News it was as a result of seeing our documentary that the force decided to appoint its own dedicated officer, with a brief to focus on discrimination of all types within football in London.
The female PC – who the Met have chosen not to name – is already in post, and has been working for several months.
The Met has told Sky Sports News no one from the force is available for interview on the subject whilst they focus on other “strategic priorities”.
Staffordshire Police have followed suit and last week appointed a specialist hate crime officer for football.
PC Rich Lymer will work with Stoke City, Port Vale, Burton Albion and others, and look to prosecute anyone found to be using discriminatory language or behaviour within football.
Burnett: Discrimination on the rise, but a positive move
Kick It Out chief executive Tony Burnett speaking to Sky Sports News
“It’s really positive from our perspective, and we would advocate that more forces do this.
“We can see that it works, both in terms of bringing perpetrators to justice, but also prevention, and people knowing there is a serious deterrent there, to think twice when they are about to commit a hate crime.
“I’m really pleased that the Met, pre-dated by the West Mids and now Staffordshire have done this, in three big regions. It’s steps in the right direction with evidence of success.
“I’d certainly like to see other forces, where there is a significant football presence, get on board, but it’s not just about punitive measures. One of the things we do is making sure we have a wraparound provision, because punitive measures aren’t always the best solution, and education is a service we provide.
“Sometimes that is more appropriate, whether it’s a young person or the incident hasn’t quite met the crime threshold.
“The trend analysis is looking like we’re seeing a significant increase in incidents of discrimination. In the weekend just gone we saw a number of really sad incidents around grounds, not just in the EFL but also in the National League.
“It’s not going away, this issue, so it’s really important we are now mobilised, so we can tackle it as quick as possible.”
Hate Won’t Win
Sky Sports is committed to making skysports.com and our channels on social media platforms a place for comment and debate that is free of abuse, hate and profanity.
For more information, please visit: www.skysports.com/againstonlinehate
If you see a reply to Sky Sports posts and/or content with an expression of hate on the basis of race, sex, colour, gender, nationality, ethnicity, disability, religion, sexuality, age or class, please copy the URL to the hateful post and screengrab it and email us here.
Kick It Out reporting racism
Kick It Out is football’s equality and inclusion organisation – working throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change.