Northumbria Police officer to lead England at Euro 2016
09 Jun 2016 12:29 PM[View Full Size]
A Northumbria Police officer has been hand picked to represent England at the European Championships in France this summer.
Chief Superintendent Steve Neill has been selected to lead a delegation of English intelligence officers at the football tournament when it kicks off in Paris tomorrow (June 10).
He will be joined by similar delegations from Wales and Northern Ireland who are responsible for looking after travelling supporters and making sure they behave.
The North East officer was picked to lead the English cohort ahead of officers from a number of other UK forces and he says he is "incredibly proud" to have been chosen for the role.
Chief Supt Neill, Operations Commander at Northumbria, said: "To be selected for this role is a massive honour both for me and for all those at Northumbria Police who are involved in policing football in our region.
"It is a bit like being selected to play for your country in a way and it is a testament to the outstanding work we are doing here in the north east in our football communities.
"My main role will be to lead a team of intelligence officers who will support the French in the policing of the tournament and make sure the travelling England fans have a safe and enjoyable time.
"Following the attacks in Paris earlier this year there will be a higher presence of armed police but anyone travelling should be alert and not alarmed. They are there to reassure you and keep everyone safe.
"My message to England fans is go and enjoy what will be an incredible experience, drink responsibly and look after yourselves. If you see me in the crowds then come and say hello."
Chief Supt Neill has a wealth of experience when it comes to policing football and has been policing the derby matches between Newcastle and Sunderland for more than a decade.
He was behind the formation of the Football Neighbourhood Policing Team which was the first of its kind in the country and has gained national recognition for its role in engaging with the football community.
Officers within the team have worked hard to break-down the ‘us and them’ mentality traditionally associated with the policing of football matches and as a result football-related disorder has fallen.
Chief Supt Neill believes this is an approach that can be replicated with England fans and is one he has already adopted when travelling abroad to recent friendly matches.
He said: "We have had great success with the model we have adopted in the north east and I have already been talking to my French colleagues about our approach.
"The Football NPT regularly engage with young people and have managed to break down the barriers that have existed in recent years with supporters.
"The selection of a north east officer is a testament to all the hard work and commitment of the football community over a number of years which includes our clubs, local authorities, transport providers, business communities and supporters."