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By Chris Willmott 03/07 Updated: 04/07 15:15
THREE members of West Midlands Police’s specialist Football Unit have returned home having made history by walking the beat in Ukraine during Euro 2012.
PCs Colin Barlow, Tim Gant and Stewart Bladen were part of a 24-strong UK team at the European Championships to support Polish and Ukrainian colleagues and offer expert insight into Three Lions’ fans abroad.
They were deployed near airports and town centres to assist host police in monitoring England supporters, ensure their safety, and act as ‘spotters’ for any known troublemakers.
However, despite pre-event concerns about football-related violence in eastern Europe, PC Barlow said travelling fans were well received by locals and the overwhelming majority of England fans.
And that spirit of good-natured fun mirrored the mood of supporters cheering the team on back home with only only five arrests for public order incidents and three for domestic matters over the duration of the tournament.
PC Barlow, who was based in Kiev, said: “It’s been a fantastic experience mixing with fans of all nationalities and sharing our expertise with Ukrainian colleagues."
England fans’ trouble-free tournament has largely been attributed to the success of Football Banning Orders which prohibit troublemakers from flying out to football competitions abroad.
In the West Midlands, 98 per cent of those subject to such orders surrendered their passports – a condition of the bans – while the force Football Unit were stationed at Birmingham Airport during June on the look out for anyone linked to football disorder trying to reach Ukraine.
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