NEWS
25/06/2012 05:51 BST

Euro 2012: Bedford Police Shut High Street After Confrontation Between English And Italian Fans

A group of around 150 football fans forced a town's high street to shut after they tried to confront Italian fans following England's defeat in the Euro 2012 quarter-final.

Bedfordshire Police were forced to close the High Street and the Embankment in Bedford after sporadic disorder broke out following the match against Italy in Kiev on Sunday night.

Around 1,200 England fans watched the game in the High Street pubs and the vast majority were well behaved and went home after the match without incident, a force spokeswoman said.

England after losing their penalty shoot out, crashing out of Euro 2012

As numbers coming out onto the streets swelled, police put a loose cordon around supporters and closed the High Street.

Approximately 150 supporters broke away and headed for The Embankment, an area traditionally frequented by the Italian fans.

The group caused damage to a number of vehicles and one person was assaulted, although not seriously.

Police prevented the group from confronting Italian fans who had gathered in Russell Park.

Three people were arrested, one for assault and two for criminal damage.

Superintendent Mark Turner, who was responsible for the policing operation, said: "Sadly a well behaved build-up to the game was marred by approximately 15 minutes of sporadic disorder in Bedford High Street and the Embankment after the penalty shoot-out.

"A crowd spilt onto the High Street, which was closed in the interests of public safety.

"Unfortunately a group of approximately 150 people broke away and ran towards the Embankment straight into grid-locked traffic as many Italian fans had formed a cavalcade of vehicles to celebrate and it was at this point some vehicles were attacked by the crowd.

"It is thought the breakaway group was intent on confronting a larger group of Italian fans who had gathered in Russell Park, but they were prevented by police who reacted quickly and professionally to the situation.

"It is always a shame when the majority of well-behaved supporters are let down by the actions of a mindless minority and while order was quickly restored this was undoubtedly an extremely unpleasant situation for people trying to leave the area sensibly and particularly for those stuck in their cars."

Officers will review CCTV images to establish what other offences may have been committed and identify where possible those responsible.

Fans watching the match in other towns across Luton and Bedfordshire did so without trouble and no issues were reported.

Bedford has a high concentration of Italians after a wave of immigrants moved to the town in the 1950s for jobs in a local brick works.