REPORTER Dale Haslam continues his regular blog about his daily train commute in and out of Bolton

ON Tuesday night, I noticed many more police than normal on the rail network.

There were police vans at Bolton station, officers on the platform and the same at Chorley, along with mounted officers outside. A friend told me it was a similar picture at Preston.

Was Barrack Obama in town to visit the town hall? Was a high-risk criminal on the loose? No, it was something apparently more serious — a football match, Bolton v Blackpool at The Reebok Stadium.

It is sad police take such a dim view of football fans and that those with no interest in the beautiful game might share it when they see such big patrols.

I am aware Blackpool and Bolton’s history, including the death of a fan at Blackpool’s ground in 1974 and numerous fights in the 1980s.

But that level of football-related violence simply does not happen anymore.

More families come to games, police know the troublemakers, CCTV cameras deter them and police initiate prosecutions and stadium bands for offenders.

So why do we need such high-visibility patrols?

Cynics say it is so police can make a case for future budgets, but I believe it is down to habit.

No senior officer wants to be the one who tones things down before a riot, so they stick to what they know. The taxpayer foots the bill for these patrols and unless statistics back up the need for them, it could be time to scale them down.

A British Transport Police spokesman said the size of the patrols is based on intelligence and they are to keep people safe and that the evening passed without incident.