Fifteen people have been arrested after huge crowds gathered on Friday night to celebrate Liverpool’s Premier League win.
In scenes described as “unacceptable” by the club, crowds gathered on the Pier Head on Friday night and part of the Liver Building was set alight as fireworks were launched amid wild celebrations.
In a statement, Chief Constable Andy Cooke said the actions of a minority were “not only irresponsible, but criminal”.
He said: “Last night, children and families were present alongside others and heavy-handed police intervention was therefore not appropriate at the time.
“Later on in the night, 15 people were arrested for violent disorder and my officers were subjected to a number of violent confrontations. This is not acceptable.”
The chief constable, himself a Liverpool supporter, said CCTV was being examined to identify those responsible for criminal or anti-social behaviour and urged fans to wait until it was safe to celebrate the club’s first Premier League win in 30 years.
Police issued a Section 34 dispersal order for the city centre on Friday night, allowing them to disperse the crowds who had gathered.
A joint statement on behalf of the club, Liverpool City Council and Merseyside Police said: “Several thousand people turned up at the Pier Head on Friday June 26 and some chose to ignore the social distancing guidance and risk public safety.
“Our city is still in a public health crisis and this behaviour is wholly unacceptable.
“The potential danger of a second peak of Covid-19 still exists and we need to work together to make sure we don’t undo everything that has been achieved as a region during lockdown.
“When it is safe to do so, we will all work together to arrange a victory parade when everyone can come together to celebrate.
“Until that time, the safety of our city and our people continues to be our number-one priority.”
Videos circulating on social media showed a firework hitting the Liver Building, which is partly owned by Everton FC majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, as fans celebrated the club’s first Premier League win in 30 years.
Four fire engines were sent to the building, where they extinguished a blaze on a balcony, a Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said.
Merseyside Police said the crowd developed quickly and officers had to close off side roads leading to the area for public safety.
The statement added: “We all understand that fans want to celebrate, but now is not the time. We need to get through this first, and know that it is safe, before any victory parade can go ahead.
“But rest assured, when the time is right the city can have a party and paint the town red, but we need to be patient for the safety of the public of Merseyside.”
Metro mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram said: “The vast, vast majority of supporters followed the advice of the police, the club, the council, myself and others, to celebrate safely and at home. They deserve our praise and thanks for doing so.
“Unfortunately, a small minority of people did not listen to these pleas and instead chose to gather in public.
“In some cases, people behaved in a way that would be unacceptable even if we were not still grappling with a global pandemic.”
On Saturday the area was left littered with discarded bottles and rubbish and council street cleaners were on site.
It followed supporters packing into the area around Anfield Stadium on Thursday night when Liverpool claimed the title as the final whistle blew in the match between Chelsea and Manchester City.
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said on Twitter he was “really concerned” about the crowds on Friday night but said the council did not have the power to disperse the gathering.
He said: “I appreciate #LFC fans want to celebrate but please, for your own safety, and that of others, go home and celebrate at home.
“Covid-19 is still a major risk and our city has already lost far too many people to the illness.”