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Fans handed domestic abuse warning

Police and prosecutors have warned football fans that there is "no excuse" for committing domestic abuse, ahead of this weekend's Old Firm clash between Rangers and Celtic.

Previous Old Firm match days have seen a sharp rise in the number of domestic abuse cases.

On February 7, the domestic abuse unit at the Glasgow Procurator Fiscal Office received 48 reports following the Old Firm game the day before, which resulted in a 2-2 draw, compared to 36 reports the previous weekend.

Two weeks later, when Rangers lost 3-0 to Celtic, there were 70 reports made to the unit, which was a 75% increase on the previous week when there were 40 reports received.

The Lord Advocate, the Rt Hon Frank Mulholland QC, said: "Figures from the start of this year showed a clear link between Old Firm football matches and a rise in the number of domestic abuse cases reported to the Procurator Fiscal in Glasgow.

"Domestic abuse is never acceptable and I find it particularly disturbing to see a link with an Old Firm match, but this is the trend we are now seeing. Football-related disorder and violence, whether inside the stadium, in the streets and pubs afterwards, or at home, will not be tolerated.

"I urge football fans to enjoy the match wherever it is watched and behave responsibly. I earnestly hope that the post-match discussion will be exclusively about the football."

Chief Superintendent Bob Hamilton, from Strathclyde Police's territorial policing unit, said: "Analysis has shown that following Old Firm fixtures the number of domestic abuse incidents that officers deal with can be three times what would normally be expected over a weekend. This is clearly unacceptable.

"Additional officers will be on duty to deal with any demand that arises post-match, but we would hope that people will heed the warnings that are given and that the number of victims decreases during this period."

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said anyone arrested for a domestic abuse offence can expect to find themselves appearing before the Domestic Abuse Court in Glasgow, where they will be "robustly" prosecuted.