Football fans reminded to take care

Plea issued following spike in demand

Football fans are being reminded to enjoy the games but to drink responsibly and think before calling 999, after the region’s police and ambulance services saw a spike in demand after the last England match.

This summer World Cup fever has hit the country as the national football team navigated their way to the semi-finals of the tournament.

That has been replicated in the North East where thousands of people have visited fan zones and bars across the region.

As a result, call volumes have exceeded those received by Northumbria Police and North East Ambulance Service for New Year’s Eve, the busiest night of the year. 

Police did not experience any of the trouble seen in other parts of the country and there have been very few reports of disorder or criminal damage.

Chief Superintendent David Felton, Head of Communications, today (Tues) praised fans for their behaviour but reminded them to be responsible ahead of Wednesday evening's semi-final.

He said: "Between 7am and 7pm on Saturday we received 782 calls to 999 which is more than we received on New Year's Eve.  This was an increase of 62 per cent but actually there was only 9 per cent more incidents created and four additional arrests across the entire force.  We have not experienced some of the widespread disorder after the England games that has been reported on elsewhere in the country. 

“But there has clearly been a big increase in calls which is most likely as a result of the high footfall of people watching the match in our busy city centres and consuming a large amount of alcohol.

"We would ask that people planning on going out to enjoy the remaining England games do so responsibly and think about some of the ugly scenes we have seen across the country.

“This increase in demand does put a strain on resources and it will take a bit longer for people to get through to police for those non-emergency calls.
  If we do see anyone jumping on cars, bus stops or telephone boxes then you are breaking the law and could be arrested. 

"Work with us, take pride in your local community and look after yourselves. We will have a lot of officers on duty in the coming days so if you have any concerns then come and speak to us."

North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) call operators answered 1,159 999 calls between midnight and midnight Saturday, 7 July – more than the 1,099 calls received during the same period on New Year’s Eve.

Between 5pm and 3am the service received 984 calls, experiencing spikes in demand just after the match and later into the evening from 9pm until midnight. This was 19.7% higher than demand on the service during the same period the previous weekend.  Demand on the service continued into Sunday, where the service received 1,050 calls between 9am on Sunday and 1am on Monday.

In preparation for the week ahead, the service has taken the decision to increase its operational status from one to two in order to protect its core services and supply the best possible level of service.

NEAS clinical services manager Darren Green said: “England have reached the semi-final of the World Cup for the first time in 28 years and the nation stands behind them. There are numerous public events and plans to enjoy this landmark occasion and with this we ask members of the public to be celebrate responsibly to help us continue to deliver ambulance provision to those in need. 

“We’re all looking forward to a great week of football – hopefully culminating in football coming home. Our usual patient care demand will continue over this period, so it is important the public enjoy it responsibly and safely to help us continue to respond effectively to those in need.

“If you do need help, please think before you pick up the phone. Do you really need an ambulance or is there another NHS service that could help?”

Examples of medical emergencies include:

  • Chest pain;
  • Breathing difficulties;
  • Unconsciousness;
  • Severe loss of blood;
  • Severe burns;
  • Choking;
  • Fitting;
  • Drowning
  • Severe allergic reactions

If it is not an emergency, members of the public are asked to seek help elsewhere, such as their local walk-in centre. Anyone unsure of where to go can call NHS111.

Always check the Northumbria Police website before you contact police with a non-emergency query as your call may be better directed to a different organisation.

If you want to report a non-emergency incident to police, where there is no immediate risk to property or person, then consider using an online reporting form at

Always call 999 if there is an immediate risk to property or person, or if a crime is in action.

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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