By Gillian McKenzie
An article in Glasgow’s Evening Times newspaper last week, with the headline ‘cops to red card World Cup trouble in city bars’, claimed police were “preparing for an influx of fans set to watch matches in pubs across the city” and that senior officers said there would be a “zero-tolerance policy on drink-fuelled violence and disorder”. Chief inspector Alan Porte told the newspaper “officers will be out and about to minimise any violence and disorder which might occur among the minority”.
The report sparked anger in the trade.
“I find this grossly insulting – as a citizen of Glasgow and as a responsible publican who runs a tight ship,” said Billy Gold, president of the Strathclyde area LTA who runs the Hielan Jessie pub on the Gallowgate.
“Is the chief inspector implying we’re not doing our jobs properly?
“The citizens of Glasgow do not indulge in ‘violence and disorder’ during the football season when there can be three or four games in one day. Are Glasgow’s pubs going to turn in to hotbeds of violence during Russia v Korea?
“Of course the police need to do their job. But what kind of advert is this for Glasgow?
“People will think they can’t go out for a drink in this city if a football tournament on the other side of the world, which Scotland aren’t even playing in, apparently provokes violence and disorder.”
SLTA chief Paul Waterson said: “This comes just after the [SLLP] conference where we heard about police overstepping their powers, a meeting where I heard individual cases of police taking a more aggressive stance and the letter that was sent to all premises warning about test purchase visits.
“One of those things in isolation is bad enough but all of them in a few weeks and now this is very worrying and suggests a change in emphasis.
“The trade has been working with the police; of course we have our differences but underpinning that has been trust. If we lose our relationship with the police it’s very worrying.”
A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said there are no additional officers on duty in the city centre during the World Cup. “In relation to the World Cup, there is potential for an increase in disorder, not just in licensed premises, however police will provide a proportionate response,” she said.