Scotland

Extra search powers for police at Scotland v England match

Hampden Park Image copyright PA
Image caption Tens of thousands of fans from all over the UK will be at the World Cup qualifier at Hampden

Police will use extra powers to deal with potential trouble at this weekend's Scotland-England World Cup game.

They will be able to compel fans to take off masks or hooded tops which could prevent identification.

Armed officers will be deployed at major public events, reflecting heightened security levels.

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said the force had intelligence some English fans may cause trouble.

Such behaviour would be "ridiculous and disrespectful" following recent terrorist incidents, he said.

Tens of thousands of fans from across the UK will be at Hampden Park in Glasgow to watch the qualifier match.

Robust policing plans

A full-scale security operation will cover several major events in Scotland over the next few days including the general election and a concert by the singer Robbie Williams at Murrayfield stadium.

Mr Higgins said "robust policing plans" were in place to keep the public safe.

"Understandably, since the tragic events in London and Manchester, people are more aware of the current threat to the UK from terrorism.

"There is no intelligence to suggest that Scotland or indeed this football match or any other event is a target but we have reviewed all forthcoming events to ensure our policing plans are robust."

Image caption Armed officers will be deployed at major public events

He said armed officers would be deployed at Murrayfield for the concert on Friday and at Hampden Park stadium.

Mr Higgins added: "Specific legislation has been implemented throughout the duration of the weekend that gives police additional powers to stop and search people who police believe may be looking to cause violence and disorder.

"If you intend to cause disorder, think again; you will be caught and you face spending the weekend in the cells."

Describing suggestions that some English fans may be intent on causing violence, he said it was "ridiculous and disrespectful following the events of the last three weeks that people feel they can come up to behave in a manner which would be disgraceful for the whole country".

In light of the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London, police are asking fans to show consideration for the general public by refraining from congregating in large numbers in crowded places.

Visiting fans are reminded it is illegal to drink alcohol in public places in Glasgow or on buses travelling to the stadium.

Superintendent David Marshall from British Transport Police (BTP) said: "There is no place for intimidating behaviour and our officers will be working hard to identify those who are out to cause trouble."

Suspicious behaviour

He added: "In light of the dreadful attacks in Manchester and London, our focus has of course remained on countering the threat of terrorism.

"Whilst we have more BTP officers at stations across the country and have asked you to be vigilant, this does not mean that any specific intelligence has been received relating to our stations or that there is an increased risk of travelling by train.

"The public are the eyes and ears of the rail network and I would urge them to report suspicious behaviour and criminality to us by texting 61016 or by calling 0800 40 50 40."

Football governing body UEFA rejected a Police Scotland request to bring forward the World Cup qualifier to reduce the risk of violence flaring.

Senior officers say a 5pm kick-off at Hampden Park allows too much drinking time on what is expected to be a warm afternoon.

But Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan played down any concerns.

He said: "The match has been publicised and announced since 2015, and we believe that two hours will not make a material difference and therefore we will still proceed."

Speaking on BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, Scottish Police Federation chairwoman Andrea MacDonald was asked if she agreed with warnings by former SPF chair Les Gray that the late kick off could lead to "bedlam and absolute carnage".

"Certainly kicking off at that time gives fans more time to drink alcohol, and it does generally lead to an increase in violence or disorderly behaviour... although that is only a small minority of fans who behave in that way."

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