Are Ellis’ comments on policing investigation impartial?

Are Ellis’ comments on policing investigation impartial?

OVF editor Rob Fielding criticises comments by Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis after he announced he would investigate policing at the Doncaster game.

Rob Fielding writes…

I’m disappointed by comments from Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis following the much criticised policing measures at the Doncaster Rovers game.

Those words hardly appear to be showing impartiality ahead of a “considered” investigation…

The police measures – including the construction of a fence across the Hamil Road car park, banning home fans from the Vale Social pub and numerous officers on patrol to police 350 Doncaster fans has drawn much criticism as draconian and unnecessary.

After hearing of fans’ complaints, Ellis told the Sentinel that: “It is my job to hold the police to account and to understand why they have made decisions. It may be that the policing on Saturday was appropriate. Or it may be that they were overzealous. The issues will be considered, either by my office or by the ethics, transparency and audit panel.”

And that seems fair enough. But it’s Ellis’ final sentence which could be telling. Ellis added: “But if the police had done things differently and something had gone wrong, they would be facing even more criticism now.”

Now hold on Mr Ellis… if you’re going to investigate the policing fairly and haven’t even started that work, then why are you jumping to such a conclusion? After all, with that last sentence, you appear to be implying that the policing measures were correct because if they had been “different” there could have been “more criticism”. Those words hardly appear to be showing impartiality ahead of a “considered” investigation.

However, I suspect Vale fans will hardly be surprised by that last comment. With no trouble reported at the Doncaster game, it is surely little surprise to many that the police actions will be defended with the argument that they prevented any trouble rather than the simple fact that there never would have been any trouble at the game in the first place.

OVF has spoken to the Port Vale Supporters Club and has written to the Football Supporters Federation to see what action this website can take to complain about the policing of Saturday’s game. In the meantime, we fully back the letter written by Supporters Club chief Ally Simcock to Mr Ellis and we also agree with criticism of the policing on Twitter by club chairman Norman Smurthwaite.

We now hope that Mr Ellis lives up to his word and fairly examines the policing measures. He has much work to do to restore the faith of many Vale fans.