NEWS
11/07/2018 14:47 BST | Updated 11/07/2018 15:33 BST

'Behave Yourselves': Emergency Services Issue Warning To England Fans Ahead Of World Cup Semi-Final Clash

There will be an increased police presence following 'significant disorder' after Saturday's game.

Police chiefs and emergency services are warning England fans to “behave themselves” ahead of tonight’s semi-final match against Croatia.

Following England’s win against Sweden on Saturday, police said there was “significant disorder” with 387 incidents across the country leading to 70 arrests.

The “worrying level of mostly alcohol-related disorder” stretched forces’ resources on Saturday, said Mark Roberts, the head of football policing for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, which represents 44 forces across England and Wales.

“Saturday’s match was a great day for England and it’s right to celebrate it,” he said. “The vast majority of fans do that without committing criminal and anti-social behaviour. It’s incredibly disheartening to see over 300 incidents of alcohol fuelled disorder from a minority of mindless individuals.

“This behaviour has real consequences. Numerous roads across the country were blocked, stopping emergency vehicles getting to people in need and an ambulance is now off the road while being repaired.

“Shops were damaged, people were abused and assaulted and others climbed on buses and cars, causing damage to vehicles and in some cases, themselves.

“This is in stark contrast to the fans out in Russia, whose behaviour, apart from a couple of minor incidents, has been great.”

Among the incidents that police dealt with on Saturday were:

  • An ambulance was significantly damaged while parked on Borough High Street;
  • In Northampton, crowds caused disturbances in part of the town, resulting in road closures while officers dealt with the disorder. Two people were arrested;
  • At Clapham Junction, one man jumped off a double-decker bus and fell through the roof of a bus shelter;
  • Flares were released in a street in Leicestershire, with a road blocked by hundreds of people;
  • In Southampton, people blocked the roads with some climbing onto and jumping across the roofs of buses;
  • A taxi received extensive criminal damage in Nottingham;
  • Humberside saw disruption in Bridlington, Hull and Cleethorpes as people climbed on bus shelters and vehicles.

In London, the Metropolitan Police said that people should expect to see an “increased amount of officers” in Hyde Park - where 30,000 will watch the match on a big screen - and throughout the capital during the game.

“Whatever the result, emotions are bound to be high after the match and we are asking people to act responsibly and avoid any criminal behaviour. Any acts of vandalism such as damage to vehicles will be thoroughly investigated,” the force said in a statement.

“We would also ask people who are going out to watch the match to plan their journey and pre-arrange a meeting point should they become separated from each other.”

Up to 8,000 football fans are expected to attend a sell-out screening in Manchester and extra police officers are being deployed to keep the peace across the city.

Chief Supt Graeme Openshaw, of Greater Manchester Police, said he understood that people will want to celebrate if England reach the finals.

“But fans have to strike a balance and we’d ask people not to over step the line and be respectful of others around them,” he added.

“Unfortunately, we are aware that people have been climbing on emergency services vehicles and blocking buses - not only this dangerous but this is also stopping people from doing an important job.”

Other parts of the country will also see an increased police presence, including Leicester and Birmingham.

Other emergency services have also issued warnings. The West Midlands Ambulance Service released guidance for staying safe and also appealed for fans to behave responsibly. 

On Twitter, the service said: “Ambulance staff are asking the public to ensure there’s no repeat of the scenes in London at the weekend where an ambulance vehicle was damaged. They say it could have had tragic consequences.” 

In a separate tweet, paramedics urged people to drink responsibly and look out for their friends. 

One said: “Don’t go out and do anything stupid that you wouldn’t do normally and behave yourself.”

In Shrewsbury, fans are being warned to stay away from the river if they have been drinking.

The warning follows a series of deaths in the town’s section of the River Severn in recent years. 

England are facing Croatia at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday evening, with kick off at 7pm.