In light of new security measures being announced the following has been sent to LS185, West Ham and the Met. Police.
I note your announcement on the new security search process mooted at the meeting on 30/08/2017.
On taking a closer look a number of points have come up since the announcement.
Firstly were any fans (groups) who actually have used the stadium over the last year involved in the planning of this scheme ?
As you are aware a significant majority of fans approach the stadium from Stratford along bridges 1 and 5.
There does not seem to be a turnstile I at the LS as marked on bridge 1. Do you mean J ? For those people coming from Stratford according to your statement have to make an extensive detour to bridge 2 to get to their entrance.
How will people know this and at what point on the route to the stadium ?
The same can be said for people entering at turnstiles A, B and C. Previously they would have moved across bridge 1 and 5 and walked around the ground. If they have to avoid those bridges they now have to make a further detour around the park to reach their dedicated bridge. This is too much of an ask for a number of people who are elderly or indeed the very young. The walk to the stadium is already long enough as it is.
The request for people to be there 1 hour before is all well and good but unfortunately may fall on deaf ears.
Fixtures on weekday evenings maybe fraught with delays on public transport, people leaving work late or indeed families coming post after school activities.
As winter approaches the sun is due to set at 7.29pm this Monday a full 30 minutes before kick off so it will be dusk / getting dark.
The surrounding area of the LS is known for poor lighting so has any provision on lighting been made or improved on since last season?
Has the the idea of piloting this scheme on an evening with an unknown number of people arriving without prior knowledge of this new entrance process been thought out carefully? What evidence have you used ?
Football is a winter sport and cannot be compared to summer athletics meetings and rock band concerts. These are usually one off events where people will arrive over a period of time to see their event. There are support bands for the main act while finals of athletics events are scheduled later in the event day to allow the stadium to fill up on a gradual basis. Such events also generally run late. Sky TV are involved on Monday and expect an 8pm KO.
At the Olympics there was an unprecedented amount of security and volunteers to allow the event to run smoothly. Like wise at the World Athletics Championships large numbers of people were employed to search people who came to the stadium at varying times.
A football crowd does not migrate to a match like an athletics or rock band crowd. It moves en masse and traditions of arrival times have been built up over a distinct period of time. Many will come from pubs around the ground and arrive anything from 5-15 minutes before KO and expect to get in.
Large crowds do not get messages easily and anticipation at missing KO can cause anxiety and lead to overcrowding. This has to be avoided at all costs. The nuance of a football crowd as opposed to any other is an important distinction and must be carefully considered.
A football match lasts for 90 minutes and begins at a specified time. The vast majority of fans will approach from Stratford along bridges 1 and 5. This has the potential to cause a bottleneck.
From past experience of attending West Ham matches over 30 years people (initially) will not arrive 60 minutes before kick off.
Particularly at this stadium.
There is no significant pre match entertainment. Food and drink are expensive and there are few places to enjoy refreshment in what is an open stadium. This may be a significant problem.
If there are thousands of people at the bridges at KO time will the match be delayed so people can get in ?
The idea of searching people at the bridges is in principle a good one. It allows free movement around the concourse area and allows for a traditional hassle free method of entry to the turnstiles.
LS185 have had a good experience at athletics and rock concerts in the summer months but the points above mean that when using this at West Ham matches you may come across events you have not yet experienced.
What contingency plans do you have if the scheme is not working?
It would have at least been better to have had a longer period of time for this to be announced and get the word around.
I look forward to your response.
Chair for and on behalf of WHUISA.