POLICE were forced to close the High Street and the Embankment in Bedford last night (Sunday 24 June) after sporadic disorder broke out following England’s defeat in the Euro Championship quarter final match against Italy.
Beds Police say around 1,200 England fans watched the game in the High Street pubs and the vast majority were well behaved and went home after the match without incident.
However, as numbers coming out onto the streets swelled, police put a loose cordon around supporters and closed the High Street.
Approximately 150 supporters then broke away and headed for The Embankment, an area traditionally frequented by the Italian fans.
The group caused damage to a number of vehicles and one person was assaulted, although not seriously.
Police quickly responded and prevented the group from confronting Italian fans who had gathered in Russell Park.
Three people were arrested, one for assault and three for criminal damage.
Superintendent Mark Turner, who was responsible for the policing operation last night, said: “Sadly a well behaved build-up to the game was marred by approximately 15 minutes of sporadic disorder in Bedford High Street and the Embankment after the penalty shoot out.
“A crowd spilt onto the High Street, which was closed in the interests of public safety.
“Unfortunately a group of approximately 150 people broke away and ran towards the Embankment straight into grid-locked traffic as many Italian fans had formed a cavalcade of vehicles to celebrate and it was at this point some vehicles were attacked by the crowd.
“It is thought the breakaway group was intent on confronting a larger group of Italian fans who had gathered in Russell Park, but they were prevented by police who reacted quickly and professionally to the situation.
“It is always a shame when the majority of well behaved supporters are let down by the actions of a mindless minority and while order was quickly restored this was undoubtedly an extremely unpleasant situation for people trying to leave the area sensibly and particularly for those stuck in their cars,” he added.
Officers will today review CCTV to establish what other offences may have been committed and identify where possible those responsible.
Fans watching the match in other towns across Luton and Bedfordshire did so without trouble and no issues were reported.
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Weather for Bedford
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 11 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North