Rangers: armed police did nothing’
A violence-hit football club claimed yesterday that police were on its grounds when a man was stabbed after a fight broke out at the weekend, but did not step in to help stop the trouble.
A spokesman for Southampton Rangers Sports Club said six armed officers were at the venue as a precaution because officials expected a night of celebrations after the team won the First Division in front of a large crowd on Sunday. He added: “We’re frustrated because we’re doing what they asked us to do — they asked us to close earlier, they asked us to get security, they asked us to ban the antisocial individuals, they asked us to write the registered letters; and we’re doing those things.”
However, he added: “We have no faith in the police’s ability to do their job because we had six armed police officers there that did nothing on Sunday.”
It is understood, however, that the officers were stationed on the grounds, but not in the clubhouse where the incident took place, and that the brawl was quickly broken up by civilian security staff.
Police said later that a 20-year-old man left the premises with a stomach wound “after apparently being stabbed during an altercation” and warned that the BPS were considering their options under the Liquor Licence Act because of a series of incidents at the club.
The club insisted it had done everything it could to curb violence and claimed officials lacked the needed support from the authorities.
The spokesman told The Royal Gazette: “On Sunday, it was a celebration at the club because we had just won the league.
“We had security on the premises and we had six armed police inside the club grounds when this happened, so for us as the management, it’s disheartening because we had more than the number of security that’s required.”
He added: “We had liaised with the police to be there because we knew it would be a big crowd and the police were actually inside the grounds while the incident took place and did nothing. Security broke the incident up within ten seconds of it occurring inside the club.
“We had four security guards separating the individuals and the police never entered.
“None of the individuals that were involved had been involved in antisocial behaviour because we’ve banned all the people who have.”
A Bermuda Police Service spokesman said the incident happened at about 9.15pm, however the club said it took place earlier. A spokesman for the BPS said a 20-year-old man was taken to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital in a police vehicle for treatment.
The Southampton Rangers executive team is expected to ban another six people from the club as a result of the incident. Police said the Sunday incident came two days after a 22-year-old man suffered cuts to his hand from a broken bottle “wielded during an altercation at the establishment”.
Sources disputed the police version of the Friday incident, but the club spokesman declined to comment.
Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police James Howard said on Wednesday: “As a result of these recent incidents, in addition to previous ones at the Southampton Rangers Sports Club, the Bermuda Police Service is evaluating the range of options available under the Liquor Licence Act.”
The club was closed for 24 hours in February after an early-morning fight ended with several people injured.
The club spokesman said Rangers had worked hard to curb antisocial behaviour and wanted to be clear on its efforts in the run-up to a liquor licensing hearing next week.
He added a reputation for violence “hurts the executive”.
The club spokesman said: “We’re disturbed at the fact that the police held a meeting with all the bars and establishments in town two months ago to outline what they should do with all of these individuals, but they’ve yet to meet with the sports clubs.”
The BPS said today that an island-wide policing plan last weekend included patrols around Southampton Rangers.
A police spokesman explained that officers entered the sports club earlier on Sunday evening “to liaise with security personnel and conduct a liquor licence check”.
He said: “They then exited the premises and remained in the area.
“A short while later an incident occurred inside the club. As soon as officers saw an injured man exit the club they responded immediately by providing first aid and transporting the man to hospital.
“Additionally, police officers re-entered the establishment to speak with management, staff and security.”
The spokesman added: “The BPS continues to work with the management of Southampton Rangers Sports Club in an effort to create a safe environment.”
Inquiries continued and a further appeal was made for witnesses to call the Criminal Investigation Department on 247-1744 or the anonymous Crime Stoppers hotline 800-8477.
UPDATE: This article has been updated to include a response from the Bermuda Police Service.
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