The Safety Advisory Group (SAG) for Hartlepool United would like to make the following joint safety announcement to ensure the ongoing safety of all our supporters when visiting the Suit Direct Stadium and clarify the club’s position in-conjunction with the SAG on a number of matters.
Post COVID 19, football stadia across the country have seen an increase in anti-social behavior, the use of pyrotechnics, verbal and physical abuse to club staff and stewards both in person and online, verbal and physical abuse towards the emergency services, whose presence on a matchday is essential to ensure the safety of all our spectators.
For clarity the SAG is made up of the following local bodies:
- Hartlepool United Football Club
- Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA)
- Cleveland Police
- Excel Medical
- Cleveland Fire and Rescue
- Hartlepool Borough Council – Building control, Trading Standards, Licensing
The SAG meet regularly to review safety, crowd behaviour, areas of concern, emergency response planning, incident reviews and any other business deemed necessary by the chair.
Where necessary emergency SAG meetings will be held to deal with matters arising of an urgent nature or concern.
We want all our supporters to feel safe when visiting the stadium and make the Suit Direct Stadium a place where all supporters feel safe and welcome. It should come as no surprise if any of the following rules are broken that club bans can be issued to supporters who are in breach of our stadium regulations.
We understand that for the vast majority of supporters who attend and enjoy supporting Hartlepool United this message may feel unnecessary, however following our most recent emergency SAG meeting, the club have been instructed to issue this message as a polite reminder of what is expected within the stadium and its footprint and therefore there should be no surprises should they be breached and subsequent bans issued.
With this in mind, the SAG would like to highlight to supporters some of the areas of concern highlighted by the group, this list is not exhaustive.
- Pyrotechinics – It is illegal to bring pyrotechnics into a football stadium. The EFL and Premier League place sanctions on clubs who breach this rule and they have no place in football or the Suit Direct Stadium. We have recently had supporters smuggle and ignite pyrotechnics inside the stadium and inside bars and we wish to reiterate that we take a zero-tolerance position on the use of any pyro device at the stadium. They are dangerous to our supporters young and old, the players of both teams, ball boys and girls, stewards and emergency services. The club have been officially warned by The Football Association and the club will face costly sanctions should there be any further breaches.
- Stairwells – under no circumstances should supporters stand in or block the stairwells which are there to provide egress to/from a seated position only. The stairwells need to be clear at all times to allow emergency teams access should there be a medical emergency within the stadium. Blocked stairwells significantly slow emergency response times and also hinder a safe evacuation. If you attend and notice one of your party stood in a stairwell or gangway please remind them of the policy and the reasons behind it. Our stewards are briefed in their safety briefings to ask people to move off the stairwells.
- Abuse – Stewards are here for the safety of our supporters and to ensure the visit is safe and enjoyable. If a steward issues an instruction to a supporter it is for a safety reason and therefore must be followed. We have a zero-tolerance policy on physical, verbal and online abuse towards our staff and this should serve as a reminder that the club, where appropriate, will take action against this behaviour. Abuse towards emergency services is also unacceptable and will be dealt with using the full force of the law.
- Drugs – Anyone found in possession of drugs within the stadium will be referred to the police without hesitation. The Suit Direct Stadium is a family friendly stadium and we want all our supporters to feel safe and welcome.
- Alcohol – It is a criminal offence to drink alcohol in the view of a football pitch. Please do not get yourself in unnecessary trouble by drinking in view of the pitch and ensure you drink in designated areas. The club can be fined by our governing bodies and also have its alcohol licence removed if we are in a breach of our alcohol licence.
- Discrimination – Hartlepool United Football Club is proud of our diverse community and will not tolerate any form of abuse either online or in the stadium. This includes discrimination towards players of both teams and match officials. If you are a victim or witness to discrimination please report it in one of the following ways;
- Report it to a steward or Police Officer. Reporting incidents early helps clubs to take immediate action.
- Confidentially report it via the Kick It Out App, available on iPhone and Android
- Report it to Kick it Out on Social media (@KickItOut), phone 0800 169 9414 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Via the Kick It Out website form at https://www.kickitout.org/forms/online-reporting-form
- Under 14s – Must be accompanied by an adult in all areas of the stadium.
Following a number of incidents in recent months the club has had to make several costly improvements such as a new CCTV system, we have also improved seating areas, provided safe standing sections, reduced queuing times and brought in cashless technology, all to make the overall experience a safe and enjoyable one.
As a Safety Advisory Group we stand together to ensure the safety of all our supporters. The atmosphere at the stadium in recent years is one to be truly proud of, all we ask is that supporters are mindful of their fellow supporters and enjoy their visit responsibly.
Safety Advisory Group