Police operation at Wembley Stadium 'did not fail' says top senior Met officer
- Credit: PA
A top Met officer has defended police actions when ticketless fans stormed Wembley Stadium, saying the Euro 2020 final "could have been abandoned" without their intervention.
A crowd stampeded through the barriers at the stadium on July 11, to watch England face Italy in a highly anticipated final.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner (DAC) Jane Connors said in a statement that "police commanders deployed one of the most significant and comprehensive policing plans the Met has ever committed to a football match of this scale".
"Without their immediate intervention, it is possible that this game could have been abandoned.
“The ugly scenes at Wembley on Sunday night will rightly be reviewed by the Football Association and by police.
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"Where lessons can be learnt we will work with partners to ensure that future matches are not disrupted by a group of hooligans who are fuelled by alcohol.”
England could face potential Uefa action over the handling of the final.
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Ms Connors noted the game on that Sunday was the first time in 55 years that England had qualified for the final of an international football tournament.
"This was meant to be a day of national pride, full of jubilance and celebration," she added.
“In the main, the day was exactly that. However, it was sadly tarnished by a minority of disorderly and violent fans who attempted to hijack the final for their own selfish personal gain.
"Throughout the course of the day, police officers witnessed disgraceful behaviour both in central London and at Wembley, where a number of people pushed through security cordons or fought with police officers.
“I share the nation's anger at this behaviour. I want to reiterate the Met's commitment to identifying those responsible for the scenes both in Wembley and in central London, their actions will have consequences."
She said it became clear "early on" in Wembley that a high number of fans were arriving without tickets.
“Police commanders recognised this could result in ticketless fans attempting to get into the stadium, they updated security officials at Wembley of this risk.
"To support the stewarding efforts, further highly trained public order officers were deployed to Wembley stadium as a precaution.
“Soon after gates opened, the stewarding and outer security perimeter became overwhelmed and fans began pushing through security checks.
"I want to praise the quick response by police commanders and those brave officers who confronted these subsequent scenes of disorder and violence.
“I am in no doubt that their swift action prevented any further escalation."
Nineteen police officers were injured while confronting volatile crowds.
Across London 51 people were arrested across London, 26 of them in Wembley, with 25 arrests following events in central London.
"As part of the post-incident investigation, we expect further arrests to follow in the days and weeks ahead," DAC Connors added.