Claims of ticket touting and anti-social behaviour at Wimbledon denied by councils


Some are questioning whether the special measures are working.


By Peter Lythe

Special measures to combat ticket touting and other disorder at this year’s Wimbledon tennis championships are not working, it is alleged.

A dispersal zone – encompassing the area outside the All England Club and the precincts of Southfields, Wimbledon Park and Wimbledon stations – was put in place for the duration of the tournament.

People suspected of ticket touting or anti-social behaviour can be ordered to leave the zone by uniformed police officers. Those caught selling counterfeit or stolen tickets or returning to the area within 24 hours of an exclusion can be arrested.

Police have written to known touts warning them to stay away, but a failure to enforce may be undermining the crime prevention strategy.

“Actions speak louder than words,” said a member of Transport for London who works in the zone. “There’s no point in having a dispersal area if there is nobody here to enforce it.

“A fight broke out at Wimbledon Park station on Thursday afternoon and a bike was stolen. The punch-up continued onto a train and we had to hold up the line.

“There were no police on hand to deal with it.”

The man – who wished to remain anonymous – also alleged that touts were selling tickets outside Southfields station, close to the NatWest bank, in full view of officers on the other side of the road.

He said the police were not interested in ‘misdemeanours’ that occur during the Wimbledon fortnight.

This is the sixth consecutive year that Wandsworth and Merton authorities have jointly launched the dispersal zone. They claim it has resulted in far fewer incidents of touting.

Last week Cllr Jonathan Cook, environment spokesman for Wandsworth Council, said he was confident the zone would be a success: “Touts use aggressive and underhand tactics. In some cases the tickets are fake and there have been occasions when touts have taken money from unsuspecting fans and then simply disappeared.

“We believe that the zone will once again prove effective in disrupting these unlawful activities.”

Touting is a serious problem at many major sporting events, forcing fans to pay vastly inflated prices for high-demand tickets.

Anyone believed to have purchased a ticket from a tout or other unauthorised outlet will be refused entry to the All England Club.

Photo courtesy of paulafunnell, with thanks.

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