Getting paid to attend football matches might seem like a dream job to many. PC Stephen Mason is Bedfordshire Police’s dedicated Football Officer.
“I initially got involved in the policing side of football as a spotter – a police officer who can identify known fans who are likely to cause risks, and gather intelligence for the match commander. I got involved because I love football, but also because I was interested in the policing side of the game.
“Now I work within Ops Planning as a football officer and I’m the single point of contact for Luton Town Football Club.
“My main role is to assess the threat of disorder that football fans could present in the county and plan policing operations for Luton Town Football Club matches.
“I also provide intelligence assessments to other police forces to help them with the management of their own football clubs alongside planning and preparing for airport operations to do with the national England football team.
“A typical match day includes a number of briefings, then spotting – looking for those fans who are known trouble makers. Then we have to deal with any criminal activity which arises during a match and process the offenders afterwards.
“I’m lucky enough also to work on international games – I’m a spotter for England and have visited countries including Estonia and San Marino as part of this role.
“It can be a challenging game. When I was working during the England v Poland game at Wembley we had to deal with approximately 200 Poland fans who were sitting in the England end. They were clearly drunk, setting off flares, and trying to fight – quite a tricky situation to deal with when there are only four officers!
“But the challenges, and many different tasks that I have to do as part of the role, are why I enjoy it so much.”