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Policing of Football Fans

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Police Scotland accused of trying to turn young football fans into paid informants

 

POLICE Scotland has been accused of trying to build an “informant ring” of football fans to provide intelligence on fellow supporters.

The force is alleged to have discussed offering financial rewards in exchange for information on the movement of fans on match days.

Fans Against Criminalisation, a group set up to defend the rights of supporters, said they had emailed Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone about the claims on Friday.

A force spokesperson said: "We don't comment on operational matters. If any individual has any concerns we encourage them to contact Police Scotland."

Relations between the police and football fans have been strained in recent years following the passage in 2012 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act.

New offences were created by the anti-sectarianism legislation, which covered fans who were travelling to and from matches and included individuals who watched a game in the pub.

The Government argued that the provisions were necessary to deal with disorder, but campaigners believed the Act scapegoated fans and made them a target for the police. Cross-party opposition to the legislation led to it being repealed this year.

A new row has broken out over claims that police officers have been attempting to assemble a network of intelligence sources amongst fans.

Three young men agreed to speak to the Herald on Sunday about their experiences, on condition that their anonymity was protected.

John – not his real name – said that two police officers tried to reach him at his parents’ house in Motherwell in the last week of August, even though he does not live there.

The Motherwell fan said the officers told his parents that the force wanted his help to build “better policing links”, after which he agreed to meet them on the same day.

“They told me they were trying to improve policing links. They said they would like to bring supporters and the police closer together in a positive manner,” he said.

He continued: “They wanted someone as a liaison contact who could call them in advance and say ‘there are only 10 fans travelling this week’ and they then wouldn’t have to deploy as many police officers.”

John said the officers were concerned about a younger group of Motherwell fans and “potential violence”.

He said: “They thought me being an older and more sensible head, I might have some information on this group, about how they may be travelling, what method of transport, and what time they were leaving.”

John, who refused the offer, added: “They said ‘if there was any potential information that you could provide us with, we could reward you in the way of money’.

“I was completely perplexed with the whole scenario. I found it very strange. I thought ‘is this the way people who are there to protect and serve should be treating members of the public?'”

St Mirren fan, who we are referring to as “Peter”, said the police came to his door on August 24. Peter said he had helped organise a supporters’ march through Paisley after the Buddies won the league this year.

He said: “Once they were in [the house] they were talking about St Mirren and organised violence at football matches. I was like ‘this is not what we are about. We are not there to cause problems’.”

He continued: “They said that they knew I am a season ticket holder. I said it was quite strange that they knew that.

“They were wanting to know if there was going to be any organised fights, or if there was going to be groups of people travelling to certain places...If I knew that information, could I share it?”

Peter said the officers were “very pally” and flattered him: “They were trying to say ‘people look up to you, people treat you like a role model, if you were to say things to people they would listen, people would tell you information’.”

Asked if he believed the officers were trying to get him to become an intelligence source, he said: “Yes.”

Peter added: “As a taxpayer, I find it ridiculous. Even after the OBFA [the repealed Act], fans are still treated as criminals. It seems like they are trying to get an informant ring on the go for football fans.

“It’s ridiculous that this amount of time, money and effort has been spent on trying to get football fans to snitch on other football fans for things that aren’t illegal, like how many people are travelling to a game.”

After being contacted by the police, Peter approached St Mirren about any dealings the club had had with the force in relation to him.

The club responded to him by email: “We have an information sharing protocol in place with Police Scotland, however I can confirm that no personal information was shared with them. We were merely asked to confirm if you were a current season ticket holder.”

The third example concerns a Celtic fan from Glasgow, James, who was charged under the Football Act in 2016 and whose case is coming to trial.

While sitting in the cells in a Glasgow police station after his arrest, he said two plain clothed officers walked in and led him to another room: “They said they were there to help with my case. All they wanted in return was for me to help them by giving them information when they asked for it.”

He said the officers wanted information on issues relating to football and on “Republican stuff”.

James said: “They said I would never need to go to a police station to meet them or anything like that, they would never come to the house. They said I could just meet them at a Costa [coffee shop], nobody would need to know.”

 

He added that the officers, who he described as not “normal police”, provided him with a mobile phone number, which they asked him to put in his sock.

The Celtic fan said nothing happened after the conversation, but said he knew of others who had been approached in a similar way. His lawyer, Paul Kavanagh, said his client alerted him to the incident at the time and gave him the mobile number.

A spokesperson for Fans Against Criminalisation said: “We are extremely alarmed to hear about officers approaching young people in this manner. Amid all the criticism of Police Scotland, to hear of claims that they are now trying to turn football fans into informants is a new low."

Labour MSP James Kelly said: "This is a deeply troubling situation. Despite the repeal of the maligned and redundant Football Act months ago, many fans are reporting that policing on match days is still unnecessarily heavy handed. The fact that three fans suggest they were asked to spy on others would confirm those suspicions.

"Football fans are second class citizens to the SNP Government, and that is why Labour has called for an independent review of the way football policing is carried out.”

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Yet they managed to let 50 Croatians run riot un-watched all the way down the PRW after drinking in Glasgow all day!!!

I don't think "intelligence" is the word I'd use to describe the policing of football fans in Scotland.

Given that they felt he need for police horses etc the turnstiles on Friday night at Hampden for a meaningless friendly (complete waste of money/resourses), almost caused a disaster at Parkhead the other week by ill thought out planning/segregation that forced 10,000s down a narrow tunnel then maybe they should spend their "intelligence" money on learning how to police crowds adequately and stop looking for problems that don't exist.

 

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I would take anything that FAC with a big pinch of salt. They have a very big and obvious political agenda. 

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The Police treatment of football fans in this country has been been scandalous for a number of years and they seem determined to try and make it as difficult as possible for fans as a response to the recent defeat of the bill. 

This type of stuff is a waste of time and resources and takes away from proper policing that should be getting done and I'm certain that there are a number of Policemen and women who feel the same. It's an attack on the working class and they need to be called out at every opportunity for their incompetence and disproportionate treatment of football fans.

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47 minutes ago, aaid said:

I would take anything that FAC with a big pinch of salt. They have a very big and obvious political agenda. 

I wouldn't disagree with that to an extent. That said, the law was ill thought out, agenda driven and is shooty in for opposition parties. Especially given some of the nonsense spouted by the SNP (clowns like Mason) when it was in process/was repealed.

For all the FAC might be agenda driven by some, it's offset by the sheer reluctance from others to admit they are wrong/the party the vote for is wrong.

I vote SNP, have done most my adult life but they got this one, and continue to get this one way, way wrong.

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20 minutes ago, ParisInAKilt said:

Police horses at a Scotland friendly. What a joke. 

Got to justify their existence some how.

Funnily enough they don't see the need for them at Orange Marches etc  where there is a much higher chance of disorder.

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12 minutes ago, Squirrelhumper said:

Got to justify their existence some how.

Funnily enough they don't see the need for them at Orange Marches etc  where there is a much higher chance of disorder.

I think they do need them but the guys trained to ride them are usually too busy carrying the big bass drum and twirling the baton....

  • Haha 4

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2 minutes ago, Fairbairn said:

I think they do need them but the guys trained to ride them are usually too busy carrying the big bass drum and twirling the baton....

hahaha, I was gonna say something like that but refrained!

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45 minutes ago, Squirrelhumper said:

Got to justify their existence some how.

Funnily enough they don't see the need for them at Orange Marches etc  where there is a much higher chance of disorder.

The reason why they have police horses for crowd control is because they are above the crowd and so can see any problems occurring or - even better - anticipate the problems before they occur.   It's not about disorder, more just general crowd control and public safety.

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52 minutes ago, Squirrelhumper said:

Got to justify their existence some how.

Funnily enough they don't see the need for them at Orange Marches etc  where there is a much higher chance of disorder.

I think they are worried the fat bastard orangemen would eat all the horses sugar lumps. Not fair on the horses. 

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59 minutes ago, aaid said:

The reason why they have police horses for crowd control is because they are above the crowd and so can see any problems occurring or - even better - anticipate the problems before they occur.   It's not about disorder, more just general crowd control and public safety.

Aye, cos you need that with a less than half full Hampden!

Place and surrounding streets were like a morgue on Friday, zero need for "crowd control"

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1 minute ago, Squirrelhumper said:

Aye, cos you need that with a less than half full Hampden!

Place and surrounding streets were like a morgue on Friday, zero need for "crowd control"

More around the turnstiles and concourses.  Even with 20000 - and they are not spread around the whole stadium - you have a large number of people turning up in a relatively small area in a short period of time.

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9 minutes ago, aaid said:

More around the turnstiles and concourses.  Even with 20000 - and they are not spread around the whole stadium - you have a large number of people turning up in a relatively small area in a short period of time.

4 horses at one entrance (I'm guessing the same was at the other end of the ground) is beyond excessive.

You don't see police horses at Gigs etc where there are larger number of people arriving in a short period of time.

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43 minutes ago, Squirrelhumper said:

4 horses at one entrance (I'm guessing the same was at the other end of the ground) is beyond excessive.

You don't see police horses at Gigs etc where there are larger number of people arriving in a short period of time.

Yeah, this is the point.

I mind posting a couple of years back about my contrasting experiences between a visit to Cappielow and the hydro.

1 Motherwell fan ran on the park when we equalised in the last minute (which was a red neck and only prolonged our misery) which lead to bit of aggro between some overly keen stewards and some teenage boys, the police response was what I’d have expected for a credible terror threat. Hundreds of police arrived.

Thr next night I was in a crowd triple the size at the hydro and saw a guy who was so drunk he could barely stand getting helped to his seat with his 4 pints by a steward. There was a fight broke out near us, and the people involved were just separated and told to sit down.

:lol:

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3 hours ago, Squirrelhumper said:

I wouldn't disagree with that to an extent. That said, the law was ill thought out, agenda driven and is shooty in for opposition parties. Especially given some of the nonsense spouted by the SNP (clowns like Mason) when it was in process/was repealed.

For all the FAC might be agenda driven by some, it's offset by the sheer reluctance from others to admit they are wrong/the party the vote for is wrong.

I vote SNP, have done most my adult life but they got this one, and continue to get this one way, way wrong.

Totally and utterly correct. 

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4 hours ago, aaid said:

I would take anything that FAC with a big pinch of salt. They have a very big and obvious political agenda. 

Ditto for the polis as well. In fact i'm struggling to think of a bigger public funded liar than the Police Scotland.

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7 hours ago, Squirrelhumper said:

Police Scotland accused of trying to turn young football fans into paid informants

 

St Mirren fan, who we are referring to as “Peter”, said the police came to his door on August 24. Peter said he had helped organise a supporters’ march through Paisley after the Buddies won the league this year.

He said: “Once they were in [the house] they were talking about St Mirren and organised violence at football matches. I was like ‘this is not what we are about. We are not there to cause problems’.”

He continued: “They said that they knew I am a season ticket holder. I said it was quite strange that they knew that.

“They were wanting to know if there was going to be any organised fights, or if there was going to be groups of people travelling to certain places...If I knew that information, could I share it?”

Peter said the officers were “very pally” and flattered him: “They were trying to say ‘people look up to you, people treat you like a role model, if you were to say things to people they would listen, people would tell you information’.”

Asked if he believed the officers were trying to get him to become an intelligence source, he said: “Yes.”

Peter added: “As a taxpayer, I find it ridiculous. Even after the OBFA [the repealed Act], fans are still treated as criminals. It seems like they are trying to get an informant ring on the go for football fans.

“It’s ridiculous that this amount of time, money and effort has been spent on trying to get football fans to snitch on other football fans for things that aren’t illegal, like how many people are travelling to a game.”

After being contacted by the police, Peter approached St Mirren about any dealings the club had had with the force in relation to him.

The club responded to him by email: “We have an information sharing protocol in place with Police Scotland, however I can confirm that no personal information was shared with them. We were merely asked to confirm if you were a current season ticket holder.”

 

 

Yeah that march was full of right stone island clad hooligans 

Edited by Jersey Jim

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6 hours ago, Squirrelhumper said:

Yet they managed to let 50 Croatians run riot un-watched all the way down the PRW after drinking in Glasgow all day!!!

I don't think "intelligence" is the word I'd use to describe the policing of football fans in Scotland.

Given that they felt he need for police horses etc the turnstiles on Friday night at Hampden for a meaningless friendly (complete waste of money/resourses), almost caused a disaster at Parkhead the other week by ill thought out planning/segregation that forced 10,000s down a narrow tunnel then maybe they should spend their "intelligence" money on learning how to police crowds adequately and stop looking for problems that don't exist.

 

I have no idea how accurate some of this is but before the police were centralised to glasgow, certain Aberdeen matches required no police presence. Stewards only and to be honest that's all you would need for a game against Ross County. Higher profile matches required police. As soon as the police moved to Glasgow there were mounted police back at every game, a total waste of money

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30 minutes ago, vanderark14 said:

I have no idea how accurate some of this is but before the police were centralised to glasgow, certain Aberdeen matches required no police presence. Stewards only and to be honest that's all you would need for a game against Ross County. Higher profile matches required police. As soon as the police moved to Glasgow there were mounted police back at every game, a total waste of money

When were the police centralised to Glasgow?

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11 minutes ago, aaid said:

When were the police centralised to Glasgow?

apologies, I meant when the police forces were merged into one.  I did say I wasn't sure how accurate it was😂

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On 9/10/2018 at 6:12 AM, Jim Beem said:

I think they are worried the fat bastard orangemen would eat all the horses sugar lumps. Not fair on the horses. 

Ummmm, you’d better be careful. That’s going to throw you in the clink on here. Some fat Hun cunt will accuse you of personal hatred for having a vendetta against these in-bred cunts. 

Down with this sort of stuff. As Scots we should all accept this on here. 

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22 hours ago, vanderark14 said:

I have no idea how accurate some of this is but before the police were centralised to glasgow, certain Aberdeen matches required no police presence. Stewards only and to be honest that's all you would need for a game against Ross County. Higher profile matches required police. As soon as the police moved to Glasgow there were mounted police back at every game, a total waste of money

Killie have had police free games in the past, not sure how recently though.

 

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