OxTales, a new supporter database, was mentioned in the crowd management forum with Ian Mixter on 23 August 2017 (see minutes page for full minutes of the meeting), and raised some concerns.
At the time we reported
“A new system was being used by stewards, called OX-TALES. It was a database of supporters who were classed as risk supporters. OxVox were to discuss this further as it was the first time we were made aware of this system. The system would be an APP and stewards could identify supporters of risk (OxVox naturally have some questions to follow about this system).”
Following further discussion, in which Ian and the safety team have engaged fully and constructively with us, a statement explaining the system has been issued by OUFC, as follows:
The Safety Team at Oxford United are always working hard behind the scenes to develop new ways to improve crowd safety and the matchday experience for all supporters. One of these is the ‘Ox-Tales: Supporting Safer Stadia’ system which the team have been developing over the last 18 months.
This is, in effect, a database that allows the Safety Team to have secure access to information relevant to the behaviour of specific individuals and Ian Mixter, the club’s Safety Officer has been meeting with Supporters Trust OxVox to outline the benefits and explain the system in full detail.
He told us:
“The fundamental point of the system is that we believe all supporters want to enjoy their matchday experience in a safe and secure environment where any crime or serious anti-social behaviour can be dealt with swiftly and professionally. This is particularly relevant now as the definition of ‘safety’ as defined under the Stadium safety certificate issued by the Local Authority has been amended to include crime & disorder, anti-social behaviour and counter terrorism.
“It’s not a ‘Big Brother’ database of all fans, but there are four galleries which our team can access. The first is those with a Football Banning Order [FBO], second is people with an Oxford United Banning Order. There is a third gallery of those who have signed an Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC), which is a contract between themselves & Oxford United Football Club and the fourth gallery is of unknown individuals who are of interest to the OUFC Safety Team due to their involvement in criminal or serious anti-social behaviour at designated football matches.
“We had a very productive meeting with OxVox who had concerns about a particular aspect of OxTales, namely a proposed warning scheme on behaviour where fans would have had details recorded and be given either a yellow or red card, similar to schemes used successfully in shopping centres across the country. OxVox felt this would harm relations between the match day safety team and the supporters and after serious consideration it has been decided not to introduce that system at games.
“We feel we are always approachable and are always happy to have dialogue with OxVox. The vast majority of fans will never need to even think about the OxTales system, but it allows us to be flexible and up to date in the background.”
Jem Faulkner of Oxvox said
“Following initial communications regarding the ‘OxTales’ scheme, we’ve engaged closely with Ian Mixter and the OUFC safety team as well as all the senior operational managers at the club (including Darryl Eales). We had some concerns and we’d been contacted by a significant number of our members regarding the application of certain aspects of the scheme.
We’re very pleased that the club have decided to modify the scheme and are confident that fans will understand and support its revised introduction. A close and collaborative bond between the club, safety stewards and fans is vital and OxVox are very appreciative of the club’s commitment to making the match day experience enjoyable for everyone and as good as it can be.”