On the 1st August 2016 the ENABLE project releases its first major report based upon a series of observations of the policing operations surrounding football matches in Sweden. Its research is led by Europe’s leading academic research team in this field, based at the University of Keele in the UK and the University of Southern Demark, using some of the most innovative research methods currently available. The project is currently funded by Gålöstiftelsen and Länsstyrelsen Stockholm. ENABLE was established in late 2014 to provide a comprehensive, evidence based and objective analysis of the safety and security challenges confronting football in Sweden and to explore the many complex and often inter-related factors that impinge upon them. ENABLE has taken this approach so that relevant policy makers have a clear understanding of the nature of these problems and challenges but also a series of evidence based recommendations about how potential solutions might best be constructed.
ENABLE is a multi-agency international collaboration with more than 40 partners and stakeholders from both inside and outside Sweden. Since its inception the project has undertaken twelve observations of Allsvenskan fixtures using teams of international experts within which the Swedish Police Authority, through their National Development Centre in Stockholm, have been central participants. This intimate partnership between academic researchers and the police has provided the project with invaluable information to help understand the nature of the surrounding policing operations and the challenges they confront. The report highlights the vital role of this partnership and the openness of the Swedish Police Authority to critical academic analysis. The “Swedish Police’s transparency and openness is a hallmark of leading edge and democratic policing and in this regard alone the support and collaboration we have been privileged to receive positions the Swedish Police service as world leading”, says the report’s authors led by Professor Clifford Stott, co-lead of ENABLE and first author of the report
The report provides a detailed, comprehensive, in depth and powerful review of the nature of the safety and security problems being confronted by Swedish top flight football and in so doing provides some critical analysis of existing practices, as well as exploring current strengths and opportunities for further development. One of the central issues that the report identifies are problems in terms of proactive verbal and friendly engagement from police ‘front line’ staff. The authors point out this is not an unusual problem unique to Sweden and is keen not to attribute blame to individual officers. “Of course we have seen examples of individual officers engaging proactively and positively with fans. However, the general pattern indicates a significant and widespread problem with positive engagement”, argues Professor Clifford Stott and his colleagues. This relative lack of proactive positive engagement from the police creates problems because it sits in contrast to their own stated strategic goals and undermines police capacity to manage crowd events in ways that can potentially avoid and otherwise de-escalate tensions in the short, medium and long term.
The report goes on to provide a series of recommendations for the future development of football policing in Sweden. Central to these is the empowerment and coordination of dialogue based approaches to the policing of football supporters in Sweden. The report points out that this is an area of crowd policing where Sweden are global leaders having influenced how policing is conducted in other countries such as the UK. The authors point positively to two relatively recent initiatives in this regard. “Both the development of the Event police concept” first created by the police in Helsingborg “and the Stockholm evenemangs police are two very promising initiatives that need further attention”. But Professor Stott and his team go on to highlight an important breakdown in the nationally coordinated policing reforms that took place following the riots in Gothenburg in 2001, referred to as the Special Police Tactic. They assert that “the police can benefit from nationally unified clear and coherent concepts, competency profiles and training framework” and this one of the central areas where the report recommends that police in Sweden should focus development moving forward.
Now the report is published ENABLE moves on to the next stage of project development focused itself on discussion and dialogue among its stakeholder partners. The first step in this process is the ENABLE national conference on the 16th August 2016 at Tele2 Arena in Stockholm. The conference is free to attend and provides an opportunity for the ENABLE research team to present its core findings and central recommendations and then for representatives of each of the major stakeholders, including Mikael Berkesand, the National Policing Lead for football in Sweden, to provide a formal response. The event will conclude with a discussion among these stakeholders about how to move forward in the spirt of collaborative partnership upon which the report itself was made possible.
Questions about the report, please contact
Professor Clifford Stott; Keele University, UK. Telephone no.: +44 798 953 4508
Filip Lundberg, Djurgårdens IF, Sweden. Telephone no.: + 46 (0) 760 263 671
Jonas Havelund, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark. Telephone no.: + 45 21 37 97 12