Big rise in the cost of policing football matches

The cost of policing football matches has risen considerably in recent years. Last season the total cost of policing matches was almost 11 million euro. This is up from 6.2 million euro during the 2015-2016 football season. The figures appear in an article in Tuesday’s edition of the daily ‘Het Nieuwsblad’. The Flemish nationalist Federal MP Brecht Vermeulen doesn’t believed that the expense is justified. He calls for the deployment of police officers at football matches to be based on a case by case analysis of the potential for trouble at games. 

Mr Vermeulen obtained the figures for policing costs at football matches in response to a written question to the Interior Minister Pieter De Crem (Flemish Christian democrat). Mr De Crem says that the big rise in policing costs can in part be attributed to Royal Football Club Antwerp’s promotion to the First Division and Beerschot-Wilrijk’s promotion to the Second Division. This has seen the number of recognised potential trouble-makers rise by almost 25%.   

However, Mr Vermeulen is unconvinced as "The Minister also adds that Mayors and Local Police Services prefer to deploy police in numbers that don’t always equate to a correct risk analysis. This results in a lot of police officers always being deployed while this is not always necessary”.   

He cites the number of officers deployed during KAS Eupen’s home games as an example of this. “There there is one police officer per 35 supporters”.  

At Sporting Charleroi the police presence is proportionally greater than at other clubs.

Just over half the number of police deployed come from the Local Police Service in which the football club is located. The remainder come from the Federal Police Service or from other local police services via the Hypap system of cooperation and solidarity between local police services. However, Mr Vermeulen believes that the rising cost of policing matches puts this under pressure.  

Mr Vermeulen believes that if nothing changes measures will need to be taken. “Local Police Services that deploy more officers than the risk analysis justifies, should for example receive less assistance from the Federal Police or Hycap”.  

However, Mr Vermeulen doesn’t believe that the football clubs should be made to pay for the cost of policing their matches.