Statement from Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie on events in Glasgow
Statement from Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie:
“I recognise that Rangers fans would have wanted to celebrate their club’s success on Saturday and it was anticipated that crowds would congregate.
“Police Scotland, our partners and Rangers Football Club had all asked fans not to gather and to take personal responsibility for their actions.
“But 15,000 people chose to ignore that and took the selfish decision to gather at Ibrox and then George Square, and a robust partnership response plan was implemented to manage them.
“There is no easy way to stop that number of people who are intent on coming into a city from doing so without causing significant disruption to everyone else.
“Our policing approach will always be to manage a crowd in a situation like this, and minimise disruption to the wider public, while keeping everyone safe.
“The gathering was initially peaceful and throughout the day Police Scotland managed the crowd appropriately, tackling anti-social behaviour and encouraging dispersal under Scottish Government Coronavirus regulations.
“However, later the crowd in the square became aggressive and violent, fighting with each other, as the effects of alcohol took hold.
“At this point, public order officers moved in to break up the crowd and make them disperse. They began to throw missiles at us and five officers were injured, which is unacceptable. No one should expect to be assaulted when they go to their work.
“Policing a situation like this requires balance and a proportionate response. The level of force we use is dictated by the actions of the crowd. Sending in public order officers too early, particularly when a crowd is largely peaceful, can have the opposite effect and actually trigger violence and disorder.
“I strongly condemn the behaviour of these supporters who not only placed our officers at risk but damaged the image and reputation of Glasgow, especially during this critical period of the pandemic.
“I would like to place on record my thanks to the officers of Police Scotland, especially those who put themselves in danger. Throughout the day, the police operation was professional and proportionate. I also want to thank the paramedics and firefighters who responded to this incident.
“So far 28 people have been arrested for a variety of offences but we will be continuing our enquiries and my message is clear that if you have been involved in these ugly scenes then you will be identified and arrested."