British officers to ensure security at World Cup

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Thousands of English football fans heading to the World Cup in Germany will be accompanied by prosecutors able to build legal cases against hooligans.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:39 IST
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Thousands of English football fans heading to the World Cup in Germany will for the first time be accompanied by prosecutors able to build legal cases against hooligans, officials said Thursday. British courts refused to impose travel bans based solely on convictions in Portugal at the 2004 European Championship. Gathering evidence In Germany, British police with experience at securing banning orders will work with official prosecutors who will gather evidence that can be used in English courts. "We will use evidence collected in Germany to make sure any English fans who cause trouble there will receive a football banning order when they return home," said Nick Hawkins, the chief crown prosecutor for soccer issues. "This initiative solves the legal complications which prevented action being taken against trouble makers returning from previous tournaments abroad." Nearly 80 British police officers will also be at the tournament. British Home Secretary Charles Clarke said negotiations with German authorities on security during the tournament began two years ago. It's a bid to ensure there is no repeat of the violence England fans caused at the 2000 European Championship in Belgium and the Netherlands. "I have this week formally agreed key areas of cooperation with my German counterpart, including the role of British uniformed police officers, as part of a package of measures to provide maximum support to the home nation," Clarke said. "These are unprecedented measures that reflect the government's commitment to ensuring that this year's World Cup is a positive experience for the anticipated 10,000 traveling England fans and for the host nation." Fan fury Assistant chief constable Stephen Thomas, who is heading the police operation, said 29 British officers would help police on the German railways and 13 would be at German airports. Four will become temporary members of the German federal police. "They will have powers," Thomas said. "They will be sworn in as auxiliary German police officers but their powers will be limited to the railway system and the airports." In return, a small team of German officers will police British ports and airports as England fans head to the tournament. Clarke said the reputation of England fans - once considered the worst in the world - had improved since 2000, largely due to court orders that ban hooligans from traveling. More than 3,200 people will be banned from traveling to Germany. At Euro 2004, there were 52 arrests of England fans for violence in the Algarve region, and 945 people were arrested for football violence at Euro 2000. (AP)