Police Act Early Ahead of Hampden Semi-Finals

20 October 2016, 12:53 | Updated: 20 October 2016, 12:55

Early intervention will be key in tackling troublemakers at this weekend's Scottish League Cup semi-finals, police have said.

Additional officers will be in and around Glasgow's Hampden Park to deter and deal with any trouble as Morton take on Aberdeen on Saturday and then Celtic play Rangers on Sunday.

It comes as police continue to investigate disorder and vandalism which marred the last Old Firm game on September 10, with seven arrests so far.

Two blow-up dolls, one wearing a Rangers scarf, were strung up in the home section at Celtic Park during the game while officers are also investigating vandalism of toilets in the away section.

Anyone who has had too much to drink will not be allowed into the stadium this weekend, and police will also focus on licensed premises and buses and coaches to ensure fans do not arrive drunk.

Chief Superintendent Brian McInulty, event commander for both fixtures, said people have had enough of bad behaviour marring their enjoyment of football.

Speaking at Hampden, he said: "The policing style will absolutely be about early engagement, about the notion that most people coming to these games want to enjoy the game for what it is. We are very fortunate in Scotland that the vast majority of football fans are well behaved, but you do have often a small minority of people who can tarnish an event.

"The last Celtic v Rangers game at Celtic Park was a very safe and secure event, but what we did have in the back of that were some quite senseless acts of vandalism reported to us and also senseless acts of offensive behaviour carried out by a very small minority of people, and we've had a retrospective investigation going on since then.

"This weekend we will be absolutely focused on intervening early.

"We have a strong sense that actually genuine football supporters have had enough of these kind of mindless acts by that minority, and also we have a strong sense that the general public in Scotland has had enough, and we have had enough of it as well.

"We hope that on Monday we will be talking about two fantastic games rather than specific acts by a minority of people.''

Officers will also work with stewards at the ground and search people to make sure they are not bringing weapons, offensive material or pyrotechnics into the stadium.

Mr McInulty said: "The priority for Police Scotland over the course of the weekend is absolutely about public safety, so the whole operation will be completely focused on facilitating the safe movement of supporters to and from the national stadium, making sure they can enjoy the football matches in a safe, secure and respectful environment and then facilitating the egress and departure from the wider city.''