Euro 2016 kicks off in France this Friday (June 10) as millions of football fans from across Europe converge on the country to enjoy a feast of football festivities.
But working away tirelessly behind the scenes is Cheshire’s own Assistant Chief Constable Mark Roberts, who is the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) national football policing lead.
ACC Roberts is the police ‘Gold’ commander for the UK support provided to the French policing operation, and responsible for the co-ordination of the police delegation of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
During the coming weeks, ACC Roberts will split his time between visits to France, and working from the operation room at The Oval in London.
He said: “We’ve got 250,000 tickets allocated to the UK and fans will also be trying to source them in France, so we’re looking at up to 500,000 supporter trips from the UK – it’s a massive operation.
“There are around 2,000 people with banning orders and, of those, 1,500 have been ordered to surrender their passports. We’re now just mopping those who haven’t, and those who try to travel will be stopped.”
One of the key roles British officers will play is in an advisory capacity, both for the British fans and also the French police given the well documented incidents of years gone by.
ACC Roberts said: “Senior officers and a number of spotters are going out to the venues to work with the French, to speak to British supporters and to pass messages.
“The English and British fans can be quite boisterous and it’s not usually that they’re causing problems, but more that they’re just having a good time. The behaviour over recent major tournaments has actually been quite good.
“The majority of fans just want to have a good time and our aim is to keep them safe. There’s also the ongoing terror threat but they’re putting a massive security operation in place to make sure everyone stays safe and we’re there to support them in that aim.
“If anyone does misbehave we’ve got an investigation team on standby that will collate footage and will seek to impose banning orders on them as soon as they come back to this country.”
ACC Roberts has been the national lead for football policing since October 2014. He was formerly the ‘Silver’ commander for England matches and was the football lead for Old Trafford matches during his time with Greater Manchester Police.
He was also ‘Silver’ commander for the Olympic football matches at Old Trafford and travelled with England to Poland for the Euro 2012 tournament.