WMP warm up for the Olympics

Local officers are making their own plans to get ready for the games.

Ticket touts are being targeted by West Midlands Police as the force gears up for policing Olympic football matches at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena this summer.

Specialist fraud officers from the force’s Economic Crime Team mingled with fans before the Wolves vs Man United match at Molineux last Sunday on the look-out for touts.  Two men from Manchester were arrested on suspicion of illegal selling whilst nearly £1,000 in cash, plus eight tickets, was recovered by the undercover team.

Sunday’s operation was the latest in a series designed to fine tune West Midlands Police’s ticket tout task force and disrupt and gather intelligence on touting gangs in preparation for the Olympics.  Detective Sergeant Jonathan Jones from the Economic Crime Team, said: “Ticket touting isn’t just about financial gain;it can result in tickets getting into the hands of people banned from sporting events or rival fans getting into the same sections.

“Touting takes away the controlled element from ticket distribution, is strongly linked with football violence and increases the chance of disorder inside stadiums.  Ticketing issues are a potential risk for the Olympic Games; it’s important we send out a strong message that touting and ticketing fraud will not be tolerated and that offenders can expect to be punished.

“Our task force has been working closely with Met Police counterparts recently. We joined them during clampdowns on Six Nations ticket touts, plus officers will also be undercover at other high-profile events like the Grand National, Wimbledon, cricket matches, plus more regional football games.”

Ticket touting, essentially selling tickets without the issuer’s permission, was made illegal in 1994 under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. But Sgt Jones also warned sports fans against the dangers of wider ticket fraud and urged anyone wanting to take a seat at the Ricoh Arena,  to be named the City of Coventry Stadium during the Games,  to only buy from authorised sources.

He added: “Don’t be tempted to buy from unauthorised websites or other unofficial sources, however tempting the prices. You’re most likely to find the website is fraudulent or that tickets are counterfeit; you’ll only endup getting ripped off.

“Ultimately we want to ensure the Olympic football programme in Coventry passes off peacefully and that all spectators witness a safe, enjoyable match-day experience  and combating ticket touting is central to achieving that aim.”