World 'watching England fans in South Africa'

Image caption,
Thousands of England fans are travelling to the World Cup

The "eyes of the world" are on England fans in South Africa for the World Cup, a government minister has warned.

James Brokenshire, Minister for Crime Prevention, said fans would be under intense scrutiny because England is bidding to host the tournament in 2018.

However, police say trouble is more likely to take place in the UK.

Prevention plans are in place in the UK amid concern that hot weather, alcohol promotions and big screens could contribute to trouble.

'Swift action'

Mr Brokenshire said: "English football fans will be aware that the eyes of the world will be upon them.

"It's important that behaviour off the pitch doesn't in any way mar what we hope will be a strong performance on the pitch.

"We do have the Olympics coming up, we have the World Cup bid on the table, therefore there will be focus and scrutiny."

Speaking at the Home Office in London, Mr Brokenshire said misbehaving fans could expect "swift and robust action from the South African police who will deal with them under South African rules".

The UK is the only nation to have signed a memorandum of understanding with South Africa to ensure policing co-operation between the two countries during the tournament.

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Holt, the Association of Chief Police Officers' lead on the policing of football, is heading a team of 12 uniformed British officers in South Africa.

He said a fast-track courts system was in place and that anyone who took part in football-related violence in South Africa would face a banning order when they returned home.

Fast-track courts

ACC Holt said: "Officers heading to South Africa will be deployed in full uniform and will act as both intelligence gatherers and as ambassadors.

"These officers are experienced in policing football matches in the UK and will act as a direct link into the South African Police Service to ensure that it's a safe and enjoyable event for everyone.

"Those who do decide to engage in any trouble must realise that, as guests in South Africa, they will feel the full force of local policing laws."

About 3,200 English fans are subject to football banning orders, which prevent them from travelling to South Africa.

The British policing team in South Africa will be looking for troublemakers, including those who may not have passed the threshold for a banning order.

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