After their initial denials, Sussex Police and the British Transport Police this afternoon admitted that they shut the Brighton station gates on the crowds trying to travel home from Pride.
As a result, many people blamed Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR). But the company, which runs Southern services, said that it had extra trains on standby and some had left with spare seats on board as a result of the station closure.
In a joint statement, Assistant Chief Constable Charlie Doyle, from the British Transport Police, and Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry, from Sussex Police, said: “Saturday saw thousands of people descend on Brighton as part of the Pride celebrations in the city.
“Following the celebrations and the event at Preston Park, an exceptionally high volume of people arrived at Brighton railway station to make their return journeys. Due to a number of factors, the number of people who came to the station at once were unprecedented.
“It was evident that the queuing system at the station was unable to cope with the number of people, resulting in potentially dangerous overcrowding on the concourse and platforms. This was compounded by the availability of trains at the relevant time.
“Just after 11pm, a British Transport Police officer asked a Sussex Police officer to go to the front of the station to make an assessment on the number of people arriving. A decision was quickly made by the Sussex Police officer to close the gates, and with the support of station staff, the station was temporarily closed.
“This decision was made on safety grounds to allow the safe departure of passengers on trains. Staggered entry was then managed by police until the station re-opened fully just after midnight.
“Safety is our main priority and this decision was necessary in order to prevent further harm coming to passengers and staff within the station.
“We understand this decision resulted in people being delayed in getting home, but it was essential to prevent a dangerous situation from escalating.
“We will continue to scrutinise our decisions that night and will work with the train operating company and station management team to ensure that the crowd management plans at the station, in particular the queuing arrangements, is reviewed and lessons learnt.
“Once again, we would like to thank the public for their understanding and patience following the Brighton Pride event.”