British bases police in Dhekelia said on Thursday they had just completed a large-scale public order exercise at Ethnikos Achna FC which involved more than 150 individuals, including police, civilians and military personnel.
“Violence at football grounds in Cyprus is not uncommon and the exercise, which was witnessed by Commander British Forces Cyprus, Air Vice Marshal Michael Wigston and the Republic of Cyprus Justice Minister, Ionas Nicolaou, aimed to improve the response of officers, ground staff and safety officials in the event of violence breaking out during a match,” a statement said.
The exercise scenario tested the response of the police and ground staff both inside and outside of the stadium and centered on the discovery of a dangerous weapon during a search and subsequent crowd trouble which led to a pitch invasion and the stabbing of a steward.
During the intensive one hour exercise, those involved were assessed for their response to each scenario and according to SBA Police Chief of Staff, Chief Inspector Andreas Pitsillides, who was the exercise coordinator; he was satisfied with the outcome.
“The exercise aimed to put our officers and the ground staff under pressure to see how they would react should the events unfold for real and under some intense scrutiny, they performed extremely well,” he said.
“We also wanted to see how effectively all those involved could work alongside one another, whilst ensuring a safe and secure environment for everybody attending the match and I feel that was achieved.”
Following the conclusion of the exercise, which included the use of highly trained police dogs, the SBA Police also demonstrated the effectiveness of the tasar gun, which firearms officers are permitted to carry and deploy should it be deemed necessary.