The Word On The Street...
Traffix in conversation with PC Stewart Bladen from the West Midlands Police Force Football Unit

Posted on Friday, Feburary 7th 2020

Traffix Recruitment

Can you describe the scale of operations for policing football matches?
Aston Villa's quite a challenging football venue really, with a stadium that holds 42,000 people in one place. What we generally have is any number of officers ranging from 50 up to round about 400 for high-risk fixtures - working those games, trying to keep people safe and to prevent disorder.

What's the most challenging aspect of policing football matches? The most challenging aspect of policing the football match is balancing engagement with keeping the Queen's peace, because one minute you can be re-uniting lost children with parents and showing people where to go, the next minute you can be getting into the middle of people who are intent on causing harm to each other. So it's that ability to switch from being 'nice cop' to 'cop who wants to prevent those sort of things happening'.

How were you introduced to Traffix?
I've been working with Traffix since I took over at Villa Park as the dedicated Football Officer in 2011, and they were the agency employed by Aston Villa Football Club to provide the road closures around the ground on match days - so since 2011 I've had a close working relationship with Traffix on a weekly basis.

Can you describe the duties carried out by Traffix pre, during and post match?
You would think Traffix' duties only extend to the match days themselves, but we incorporate them into the planning of events as well. We could have them here for weeks prior to an event to assist in the planning and delivery of that event. What we do is we incorporate their knowledge of the area and their knowledge of the traffic management around that area into our operation for on the match day - so they are key to that in the run-up to the game.

On the matchday itself they are probably one of the most important people there at the game. They are in charge of all the road closures around the ground - and keeping 42,000 people safe going to the ground - so they are really key to the delivery of that. It's not just going crowds going to the ground - once the games have been played then we've got to see the egress of 42,000 people away safely, so they are absolutely key to delivering that successful operation.

What is important to you when working with suppliers / partners?
It's trust - I want to be able to know that they are fully conversant with what we're seeking to achieve. The traffic management around Villa Park is in what's called Zone X - and that's the safety and responsibility of the club really under the Green Guide - but that Zone X can extend out to traffic hubs and transport courts as well. So, the transport hubs are key, and I need to now that Traffix are fully conversant with what we're seeking to achieve on the day of the game - a safe environment for people to come and watch football, but also an enjoyable environment.