England’s progress to the World Cup semi-final and warm weather has seen fans take to the pubs, streets and even beaches to watch Gareth Southgate’s men in action.
However, ahead of the team’s semi-final with Croatia on Wednesday evening, fans in England are being warned about their behaviour.
The 2-0 defeat of Sweden on Saturday led to a carnival atmosphere up and down the country as many took to the streets for an impromptu party.
According to police chiefs there were 387 incidents across England with 70 arrests following the 2-0 win over the Swedes, mostly of alcohol-related disorder.
Some of this can be put down to over-exuberance but others were serious incidents with extensive damage to an ambulance in London hitting the headlines.
The incidents over the weekend included:
England fans destroying a taxi in Nottingham, an ambulance car being smashed up when fans jumped on it near London Bridge, a man jumping off the roof of a double decker bus and smashing through the roof of a bus shelter in Clapham; disorder in Northampton that caused roads to be closed hundreds of people blocking a street in Leicestershire and letting off flares crowds blocking roads in Southampton and people climbing on top of buses disruption in Bridlington, Hull and Cleethorpes as people climbed on bus shelters and vehicles.
Money is being raised by fans to cover the damage of the ambulance but the vehicle remains off the road.
Fans are now preparing for England’s semi-final, with a special World Cup fan zone in Hyde Park which will hold 30,000 supporters.
Mark Roberts, the head of football policing for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, told us: “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.
“There is absolutely no excuse for this type of senseless behaviour.
Emergency services resources are already stretched.
“We want people to celebrate and enjoy themselves, but not at the expense of law-abiding fans and emergency services’ resources.”
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said there have been 1,086 football-related incidents since the tournament began, with 226 domestic abuse related incidents and 230 arrests being made.
Fans representing England in Russia have been widely praised for their behaviour with thousands more primed to fly to Moscow for the semi-final.
Following England’s success in the World Cup at the weekend, ACC Steve Cooper of Nottinghamshire Police is now leading the planning for tonight’s England’s semi-final appearance.
He said: “The euphoria of England having got through to a World Cup semi-final for the first time since 1990 has sent most of the country into a football frenzy. Even those who don’t really follow international football are being swept along with all the “It’s Coming Home” hopes for the nation.
“Last weekend saw an extremely busy time for us. The glorious weather meant more people were out in public spaces, enjoying the sunshine, often with an increase in alcohol consumption over several hours. The football was a huge draw into the city to watch the game, with a big screen at Nottingham Castle and most pubs also maximising the increased footfall.
“For us, policing was not just about a presence in the city centre. Football doesn’t stop crime, nor does it prevent people in distress from needing our help. There were certainly many other things going on requiring officers and staff to focus their attention.
“Firstly was the intensive search for a 79-year-old woman with dementia who had been missing from her home in Cotgrave since Friday morning (6 July). The woman, who thankfully was found alive in the Bassingfield area yesterday (Tuesday 10 July), has dementia and her family were really worried about her. Despite having been missing for four days, teams were deployed 24/7 to carry out searches and enquiries, the relief her family had when they heard she had been located should never be underestimated.
“In addition, both Friday and Saturday saw the need for us to act on intelligence and introduce the use of Section 60 stop and search powers in areas of the city. Section 60 gives officers the power to search anyone in the area, and when we received information of an increase in tension between certain elements of the communities which could have led to serious violence, we needed to act. The significant increased patrols we deployed did act as a deterrent, and fortunately no violence offences occurred.
“These are just two things that my officers and staff had to resource, in addition to patrolling the city centre, providing local neighbourhood presence and responding to calls for service, including domestic abuse, violence and antisocial behaviour. On Saturday we actually had the highest number of 999 calls into our control room since New Year’s Day in 2011.
“The mindless actions of a small number of people in the Old Market Square and other cities across the country, has received a lot of publicity, both locally and nationally. I was pleased to see the collective response towards this behaviour was in tune with ours, that it is not acceptable to damage property and commit offences – and that was with England winning their match!
“From a policing perspective, our plans are continuing to ramp up for tonight’s game with officers being recalled from rest days to ensure we have enough resources to manage the expected additional demand and deal with any consequences – whatever the result.
“My plea to everyone going out to watch the football is to have a good time, please drink responsibly and think about your actions and the impact on others. We don’t want to have to arrest people for doing things that ordinarily they wouldn’t do, so don’t put us in a position where we have to, because officers will be there and will not be tolerating people who commit crime.
“Let’s all ensure that “It’s Coming Home” to your loved ones that really matters, without going through A&E, having been through our cells or facing a banning order to prevent you from watching football in the future.”