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Football Stadiums

Volume 556: debated on Thursday 10 January 2013

Current policy on safety at football stadiums in England and Wales has developed as a result of the Taylor report, following the Hillsborough tragedy. Thankfully, there have been no major incidents resulting from safety failures at those stadiums since then.

Unfortunately, safety is configured on what has happened previously, not on what could happen in future. Is it the case that all football stadiums in this country have been tested for mass evacuation on nothing other than a computer model that presumes perfect behaviour by all in the stadium?

Guidance is issued by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, which produces “The Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds”, commonly known as the green guide. That includes guidance on the importance of inspections and testing of contingency plans, including full evacuation procedures. The guidance is there. If that is not happening, that should not be the case.

Given the impossible task that clubs face to keep some fans seated at football matches, is it not time to carry out an assessment of whether it would in fact be safer for grounds to introduce safe standing areas rather than people continuing to stand in areas that are not designed for standing?

The requirement to have all-seater stadiums was, as the hon. Gentleman will know, one of the recommendations of the Taylor report. I undertook to look at this area when the coalition came to power in 2010. All the advice I received from the football authorities, the police and everybody involved in public safety was to make no change. For any Minister to make a change ignoring the prevailing safety advice would be extremely unwise.