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Six arrests at last three Pars matches

Published: 21 Oct 2011 07:2643 comments

PLAIN clothes police officers will continue to mix with fans at East End Park after six arrests during the last three Dunfermline Athletic home games.

In a crackdown on football-related hate crime, Fife police is sending a message to those who shout racist or sectarian abuse that they won't be ignored - they'll be arrested.

Six fans, two from the home end and four from the away section, have been arrested at Dunfermline's last three home games against Hibs, Rangers and Hearts.

Although there's pressure from politicians as the Scottish Government considers legislation to tackle the bigots, the club's own supporters are fed up and pointing the finger.

Detective Inspector David McLaren said, "As well as the national drive to tackle hate crime, we've had intelligence from fans about players and opposing fans being racially and religiously abused during games.

"As part of Operation Challenge we've had plain clothes officers in the home and away ends at East End Park.

"It's not extra resources, these officers would have been on duty at the game anyway, but clearly there is a problem if members of the public are complaining about it."

He continued, "If we are getting people going to football matches and they are acting in a racist or sectarian manner we'll arrest them and they'll appear in court.

"We don't want this type of behaviour at matches or anywhere for that matter.

"I would like to stress again that we are talking about a very small minority of fans and it's not just Dunfermline fans, arrests have been made in the away end as well."

The stadium has new CCTV cameras while the Football Co-ordination Unit Scotland (Focus) - a national police unit that works with officers policing football matches - has also been helping out at Dunfermline.

In high-visibility jackets, officers from the unit have been filming the fans at matches and were responsible for two of the six arrests that have occurred at Dunfermline's ground.

DI McLaren added, "Fife Constabulary and the club are taking this issue seriously and I hope these and any further arrests will act as a deterrent for those people intent on conducting themselves in a racially or religiously prejudiced manner.

"Operation Challenge will continue at future Dunfermline home games."

A group of football fans who sang sectarian songs during a train journey at the weekend are also being sought by police.

The 40 fans were on the 1.19pm Edinburgh Waverley to Cowdenbeath service on Saturday when they were heard singing and shouting "unsavoury" comments.

The fans, thought to be Hearts supporters, either got off at Dunfermline Town or Dunfermline Queen Margaret Station.

British Transport Police Constable Stuart Cowan said, "Hate crime of any form will not be tolerated by British Transport Police on Scotland's rail network.I am appealing for anyone who was on the train or the stations and witnessed the despicable behaviour of the so called supporters, or has any information regarding the identity of those involved, to contact me as a matter of urgency."

The BTP can be contacted on 0800 405040 or information can be given anonymously at Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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