The club has received a number of questions from supporters regarding the search policy at the entrances to the ground last night. The Safety Team have therefore provided the following answers in response.
Why was everyone being searched upon entry to the Optimising IT Stand last night?
There are a number of reasons for this. We realise that full searches have not been carried out over the past few years but searches are a legitimate and commonly used way to avoid problems inside events such as football matches, concerts etc. In the past couple of weeks the UK terror threat level has been raised to 'severe', meaning an attack is highly likely; and the EFL have recently reminded all clubs to be proactive in preventing pyrotechnic devices such as flares and smoke bombs from entering grounds. The club could face significant sanctions if we allow pyrotechnics into the ground and it has been noted by Police that our own fans have recently thrown flares and smoke bombs at recent away games. Aside from the obvious safety issues of the high temperature that they burn at, the vapour and smoke is now deemed to be carcinogenic. In recent weeks we have also found supporters trying to bring alcohol and other prohibited items into the ground so it has been necessary to introduce more stringent searches.
Will everyone be searched every time they attend a game?
No, in future searches will be more random, although the option to re-introduce full searches may be needed if supporters continue to try to bring prohibited items into the ground.
Why were queues allowed to build up?
We are aware of the need to keep queues down and although just about everyone got into the ground for the start of the match, the club is keen to keep all kinds of queues to a minimum.
Why were stewards undertaking the searches not wearing PPE?
We have noted this and will ensure that face masks and gloves are worn by search stewards in future.
Why are ticket checks being carried out?
We are aware that there has been an issue regarding people with tickets for the Colin Farmer Stand trying to access their seats through the Optimising IT Stand. This is not allowed because the capacities and flow rates to and from each area have to be strictly monitored. The ground is divided into sections and we are not allowed to mix people from one section into another.
Why was the Optimising IT Stand singled out last night?
The simple answer to this is that it wasn't. Searches were carried out at all entrances but on this occasion a larger queue built up at gate three, which is the entrance to this particular area.
The club would like to point out that the safety team's job is to keep everyone safe and to prevent disorder or public safety issues from developing inside the ground. They will try to carry out their work with the minimum of disruption and will continue to try and adapt their practises to the changing nature of the crowds on a match-by-match basis.
However, we also request that supporters allow plenty of time to access the ground by arriving at least 30 minutes before kick-off and continue to comply with the instructions/requests of stewards for the benefit of everyone.
In closing we would like to thank everyone for their support and co-operation since the return of spectators to grounds following the lockdowns.