CCTV and VMS systems help thwart hooliganism

July 7, 2023


CCTV and VMS systems allied to government regulation helped have thwart hooliganism which bedevilled the English game – not least at Millwall FC where ScanGuard and Digifort have joined forces

During the 1970s and 80s, south London’s Millwall FC earned itself a fearsome reputation which was as unwanted in the game as it was deserved. The threat of hooliganism and violence followed some of the club’s supporters wherever they went.

Originally called the F Troop, the hooligans soon became better known as the Bushwackers – who went to war with other so-called football club ‘firms’.

For visiting supporters to the Den, the crumbling stadium in Cold Blow Lane, New Cross, was not a welcoming place.

The chant ‘No one likes us; we don’t care’ was the Millwall faithful’s defiant anthem for recreational violence.

The club moved from the ‘old’ Den to the New Den in 1993, the first all-seater stadium to be built in the wake of the Taylor Report after the Hillsborough disaster, in which more than 90 people died.

Newer, friendlier stadia with more welcoming facilities across the country have done much to make clubs more family orientated. Gone are the high wire fences, large police presences and filthy terraces. The shift away from the mob menace of old is almost complete.

CCTV and VMS a force for change

Government regulation around security at sports’ grounds has cemented many of the changes needed in the sport. Compliance is not voluntary and the consequences of breaching the guidelines are explicit.

Its appointed Sports Grounds Safety Authority goes to some pains to differentiate between safety and security.

Back in the early 1990s, Millwall’s spanking new 20,000 plus capacity venue did not stem the violence initially but better security systems, including sophisticated CCTV cameras and video management systems, have thwarted the violence. Most agree the club is a safer and more welcoming place to visit.

Much of the system’s assorted accoutrements are supplied by Digifort.

Electronic security

Security integrator, ScanGuard, manages all aspects of electronic security at The Den. ScanGuard was asked by Millwall’s board to implement a new CCTV system which reflected the club’s commitment to lead the way in stadia safety, security and site management.

Richard Frere, Managing Director of ScanGuard, explains: “CCTV systems in sports stadia must comply with the UK Government’s Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds, (known as the Green Guide) in both their design and operation. The focus is spectator safety on match days and how the CCTV system can assist on-site staff with achieving this effectively.”

ScanGuard upgraded the existing, 56-camera, analogue CCTV system to a brand-new, 96-camera, Digifort Video Management System. The system has a central control room of 20 monitors; three dedicated operator positions; and two, additional, match-day workstations for the police.

All the cameras are controlled and recoded by two live servers which will switch automatically to a failover server, in real-time, should the live servers or system network develop any faults.

A single Global Command for simplicity

Frere adds: “The system is straightforward to operate. We have a hierarchy of staff users viewing only those cameras allocated to them, depending on their role. Match day settings, which are different to day-to-day operational settings, are automatically triggered by a single, Global Command for simplicity.

“The X-SERIES rugged PTZs and VEGA fixed cameras are well-established in public-space, commercial and Government applications. Digifort is also extensively used in high-security applications, including government, public space and critical infrastructure projects. Our systems are in sports stadia already, giving us a wealth of experience, so we were delighted to work with Millwall FC to help specify a robust, functional and future proof CCTV system for them.”

According to Digifort, Millwall FC is extremely pleased with the new CCTV system, which is operating “faultlessly”.

High-definition images

The firm says: “It is proving popular with the club’s CCTV operators and match-day staff, due to its ease of use. The ability to review high-definition images immediately has enabled operators to respond appropriately to match day incidents as they happen.”

Frere explains: “The time spent on careful system design and investing in high-quality equipment, has given a better solution for Millwall with a lower cost of ownership.

“The Green Guide’s governance and risk obligations are met completely and staff and spectators are kept as safe as possible. The decision to implement the new CCTV system highlights another example of Millwall FC’s commitment to lead the way with safety, security and a well-managed venue.”

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