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Biggest police operation since Glasgow 2014 at Hampden Scotland v England match

Security will be ramped up for the Scotland v England World Cup qualifier match at Hampden (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)
Security will be ramped up for the Scotland v England World Cup qualifier match at Hampden (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

SCOTLAND’S football match with England on Saturday will be Police Scotland’s biggest single operation since the 2014 Commonwealth Games as the level of armed officers is more than doubled in the wake of the London terror attack.

Officers “overtly carrying” guns will be at the Hampden Park World Cup qualifier and a Robbie Williams concert in Edinburgh while armed response vehicles will patrol election venues.

Police said there was no intelligence that terrorist attacks were planned at any of the events but they want to provide public reassurance.

Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins in the event control room at the Policing Complex in Glasgow, after discussing policing arrangements ahead of a weekend of high profile sporting events. (Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)
Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins in the event control room at the Policing Complex in Glasgow, after discussing policing arrangements ahead of a weekend of high profile sporting events. (Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

On the day of the General Election on Thursday, armed response vehicles will patrol polling stations and count venues as part of a “patrol matrix”.

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins, of Police Scotland, said: “There’s nervousness about the potential to disrupt the democratic process but while we are still operating at UK severe, there’s no intelligence that any election event, location or venue is going to be the target of any sort of action or terrorist activity.

“We will be maintaining a visible presence at certain locations and we will be maintaining a static presence at all the counting venues.

“To support this operation and all the events over the next couple of days, we have maintained our armed policing response at a level which is approximately just slightly more than double our normal business as usual and the intention is to maintain that right the way through to around Sunday and then review it.”

At the Robbie Williams concert at Murrayfield on Friday, the 57,000-strong crowd will be searched before entering the stadium and anyone with a large bag will be asked to leave it at a bag drop-off zone.

On Saturday, Hampden in Glasgow will open at 3pm ahead of the 5pm kick-off, half an hour earlier than usual to give time for security searches of the crowd of more than 50,000.

Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins(R) with Chief Inspector David Gray from the British Transport Police as they discuss policing arrangements at Policing Complex in Glasgow, ahead of a weekend of high profile sporting events. (Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)
Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins(R) with Chief Inspector David Gray from the British Transport Police as they discuss policing arrangements at Policing Complex in Glasgow, ahead of a weekend of high profile sporting events. (Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

Armed officers will be on patrol and will meet supporters as they leave the stadium.

Mr Higgins said: “The firearms posture is as a direct response to the terrorist attack.”

While police have no intelligence of a terror threat to the match, they have intelligence that “risk” supporters, possibly with links to the far right, may be planning to travel to Glasgow to cause disorder and violence.

Mr Higgins is authorising extra powers allowing officers to ask people to remove items of clothing such as hoodies pulled down low, or scarves masking their faces, to make it easier to identify them.

Police will also be carrying out a “spotter” operation, with officers from England and Wales helping to identify individuals known to be a risk.

They are also urging people to act responsibly while travelling to the match.

Alcohol bans will be in place on some trains and British Transport Police (BTP) will have extra officers on duty.