Police have issued a 48-hour dispersal order in central London giving officers the power to remove “anti-social” football fans - as Scotland supporters rolled into London for the side’s eagerly-awaited Euro 2020 clash against England.
Members of the Tartan Army piled off trains and headed into central London in their droves on Thursday, many draped and in flags and wearing Scotland shirts.
Just 2,800 tickets have been sold to the team’s fans, prompting London Mayor Sadiq Khan to implore those without one not to not travel to the capital for Friday night’s group clash at Wembley.
It has been estimated that as many as 20,000 fans could be make the journey south. All 15 train services direct from Glasgow to London on Friday in time for the game are sold out.
The Mayor’s warning that crowds of people arriving would cause a “serious risk” of spreading Covid-19 prompted pubs to cancel bookings.
But masses of fans - determined to make the most of Scotland’s first appearance in a major tournament since 1998 - congregated around Leicester Square where some were seen jumping into the William Shakespeare fountain, suggesting his pleas have gone unheeded by many.
Others headed to Hyde Park where they were they were planning to party into the night. But they faced the threat of being moved on as the Met imposed a dispersal order to allow them to break up rowdy groups.
Glasgow was previously a hotspot for the Delta coronavirus variant that originated in India, but has since been downgraded from its high alert status. Though most of Scotland has been dropped to Level One in the five-tier system, 13 council areas are in Level Two amid rising case rates.
Scotland Yard has now issued a Section 35 Dispersal Order from Thursday afternoon until 3pm on Saturday, in anticipation of “anti-social behaviour”.
The order gives a police constable and a police community support officer in uniform the power to exclude a person from an area for 48 hours with an Inspector’s authority.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman tweeted on Thursday evening: “Due to the high profile UEFA EURO Football match between England & Scotland on Friday 18th June at 8pm and the anticipated anti-social behaviour this may bring, a section 35 dispersal authority has been implemented.
“This has been authorised by Inspector Dodds from 1500 hours 17/06/21 till 1500 hours 19/06/21 in the West End area in an attempt to reduce the likelihood of members of the public being caused alarm harassment and distress and the occurrence of criminality in the local area.”