Police say they are prepared for ‘football to come home’

Police say they are prepared for ‘football to come home’
Metropolitan Police preparing for Saturday’s quarter-final clash between England and Ukraine

Police have said they are prepared for “football coming home” after huge celebrations over England’s victory over Germany in the Euros.

Senior officers reminded football fans that “we are still in a pandemie” and said they may have to disperse crowds if they become disorderly or breach Covid laws.

Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Jane Connors said officers witnessed an “outpouring of enthusiasm” on Tuesday evening.

“The majority of fans are really good-natured but they are coming out to gather,” she told a press conference. “We are still in a pandemic, we do still have coronavirus legislation.”

Spontaneous celebrations were seen in towns and cities across the country, after people spilled out of homes and pubs following the historic match.

Rondom 800 fans gathered in Trafalgar Square at a Uefa “fan zone”, where they were eventually urged to leave by security after staying at the landmark dancing, singing, chanting and hugging after the match.

Ms Connors said that police may have to disperse crowds in some circumstances, but that they would try to “get the balance right” before intervening.

Sy het bygevoeg: “We are now looking to the next game on Saturday and preparing for that.”

The senior officer said the current Euros tournament, which was delayed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, was affected by travel restrictions meaning there were fewer clashes between fans of opposing national teams.

Asked what would happen if “football comes home”, Ms Connors replied: “We are absolutely prepared.”

Senior public order officers said they were also preparing for the impact of the government’s announcement of coronavirus restrictions on 19 Julie.

Large demonstrations by anti-lockdown groups and anti-vaxxers were seen after Boris Johnson delayed the lifting of restrictions earlier this month, including one where a BBC journalist was chased and harassed.

Newsnight political editor chased down by anti-lockdown protesters

Ms Connors said the Metropolitan Police had been making projections for potential disorder at “every stage of lockdown lifting”.

She said frequent changes to Covid laws had made policing protest “even more complex” and “added to the burden” of balancing the law, disruption and human rights.

Police are also monitoring the reaction to upcoming parliamentary stages of the Polisie, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which has sparked demonstrations against proposed protest laws across the country.

Commander Ade Adelekan did not comment on specific proposals, but said Scotland Yard would “welcome anything that allows us to balance the rights of all even better than we have done now”.

He said that over the past eight months, the number of people attending individual protests had increased as different groups converge together.

Mr Adelekan said the reasons for the rise were unclear, but could be linked to the passion behind environmental and racial issues, or people having more free time because of work and lifestyle changes during the pandemic.

Ms Connors said protests were a “significant drain” on Metropolitan Police resources but added: “We’re able to deal with it because we’re used to dealing with it.”

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