Bedfordshire Police have offered their “thanks” to 2,500 football fans across Bedford for a peaceful Sunday night during and after the Euro 2020 final.
Ahead of the historic match, assistant chief constable Sharn Basra at Bedfordshire Police said they’d be providing “a proportionate policing response” to support fans of both sides.
However, while a minority looked back at previous skirmishes between the two sides, many felt positive about the event and were looking forward to friendly sporting rivalry between Bedford’s two largest communities.
The Bedford Indpedendent joined around a thousand Italian fans along the Embankment where entire families, young and old partied until 2 am.
Meanwhile, a group of England fans continued to enjoy the evening in the right spirit along Bedford’s High Street.
Police made three football-related arrests two for drunk and disorderly and one for possessing an offensive weapon, although have not said if they were English or Italian fans.
Chief inspector Mark Farrant, who oversaw the police operation in Bedfordshire, said: “I’d like to say thank you to both our national and multinational fans in Bedfordshire.
“The response from them during the tournament has been excellent, with supporters getting behind their teams, but not overdoing it.”
100 officers were involved in the policing operation across Bedfordshire, with an estimated 2,500 people celebrating the game in Bedford town centre and along the Embankment.
Rumours that Bedfordshire Police had ‘backup’ from other forces and leave was cancelled were denied, however, some officers were scheduled to work on what should have been their rest days.
“We expected last night to be a busy night for the force but we are very pleased that the evening passed off relatively peacefully and the final was enjoyed by both sides in the right way,” added the chief inspector.
Police were praised for their support. “I would like to take a moment to say a very big thank you for the amazing job your officers did last night,” said Annamaria Vecchio from Bedford.
“We felt everyone involved was professional, kind and safeguarded everyone impeccably.
“Lots of families felt confident enough to bring their children to the festivities and saw not one ounce of trouble. Thank you for allowing us to celebrate in our loud and proud way.”
Hi-visibility policing in Bedford town centre
While there was hi-visibility policing in Bedford Town Centre, with fans also being filmed to discourage trouble, there appeared to be no visible policing at The Embankment celebrations.
“Officers were deployed as a visible presence in Bedford town centre and this helped to prevent any clashes between supporters,” said a spokesperson for Bedfordshire Police.
Officers also used a drone throughout the evening to see the busy areas in case officers needed to be deployed there.
Bedford Independent’s sports reporter, Tom Carr, enjoyed the match in one of Bedford’s High Street pubs.
“The night was generally okay,” he said. “Although fireworks were set off and one narrowly missed my face.”
Bedfordshire Police also commented that a group of English supporters “verbally abused” Italian fans but this was “managed appropriately” and they were moved on.