After last years explosive clash between Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove albion, Palace fans are accusing officers of beating them with batons and kettling amid tensions between the two clubs. Crystal Palace and Brighton have a long-running rivalry, dubbed the ‘M23 Derby’ the teams began to properly clash in the 1970’s when both teams rose from the Third Division to the First Division. Brighton & Hove Albion currently have more wins in the derby.
The Crystal Palace Supporters Trust (CPST) launched a statement saying “The CPST request that the failures as outlined are investigated throughout and that those officers responsible for these foreseeable failures are appropriately disciplined. There has never been a public explanation for the source of the incorrect information promulgated by Supt Nelson both in the press release and then in his tweets. It is unacceptable for an officer, and a senior officer no less, to put forward very serious allegations without evidence to back them up”.
Solicitors acting on behalf of the CPST lodged an official complaint in the form of a 23-point letter. In it, it is alleged police officers were aggressive and struck at fans before the game at the AMEX. Around 300 Palace fans were guided by officers from Brighton Station through the city to West Street before finally ending at Buddies Bar in Kings Road. The group of fans were then escorted back to the station to travel where it has been alleged the police grew to be “rude, aggressive and used force against people in an untargeted fashion”. The group was stopped at some point between Kings Road and Brighton Station, where after some “jostling” police “responded by drawing batons and on occasions using them against whoever was closest, including strikes to the head”.
Once kick-off had happened, the AMEX staff blocked the away end to stop un-ticketed Palace supporters from entering the ground. According to the complaint, Palace supporters were then held on the bridge by the stadium. The tension between the two sides grew until both sets of supporters clashed at Brighton Station and outside the Amex. Multiple flares were set off inside and outside the ground. Crystal Palace supporter broke through the turnstiles to get in.
The multifaceted complaint is bolstered by Superintendent Nelson’s false allegations that knives and knuckle-dusters were found on away supporters. This was proved wrong after no evidence was found to back up his statement. The complaint is against the policing operation and individuals, such as the aforementioned Supt Nelson. A Sussex Police spokesman said “our Professional Standards Department are assessing the complaint in order to determine how it will be investigated. We have already apologised to both clubs and the supporters about some information published that was not correct”.