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The countdown to the first FIFA World Cup to be staged outside the UK’s summer has begun in earnest with the tournament due to kick-off in less than a month.
With the England Lionesses crowned European champions this summer following the men’s team reaching the final of their equivalent tournament last year, once again expectations are high for “football to come home.”
This is the first major football tournament to be held in November and December – which is traditionally a busy time for our night-time economy with people getting together for festive celebrations.
However, before fever pitch takes hold, Northamptonshire Police is encouraging fans to have a pre-match plan in place to ensure they, and fellow visitors to our towns and communities, enjoy a safe environment.
Throughout the tournament the Force will be running Operation Ticket from November 20 to December 18, which will see a zero-tolerance approach to those who think they can use the tournament as an excuse to commit crime and create disorder.
Chief Inspector Tom Thompson is leading the Force’s policing response to the World Cup. He said: “We saw the country unite this summer when the England Lionesses were crowned European champions, and we want the beautiful side of the game to be replicated during the upcoming World Cup.
“Historically, incidents of domestic abuse, hate crime and public disorder have all increased nationally during major football tournaments such as this, however we do not want this to be the case in Northamptonshire.
“This tournament is being played at a time when many of us are already feeling the pressure on our personal finances with the cost-of-living crisis and the festive season fast approaching, and we do not want to add to this.
“However, this is also the first major football tournament to be held at this time of year, which is already traditionally a very busy period for the county’s night-time economy with revellers, and the screening of live televised matches could have an impact on licensed premises too.
“So, before the World Cup gets underway, we would like to remind everyone that we will be taking a zero-tolerance approach to those who think they can use football as an excuse to commit crime and create disorder.
“Competitiveness between those supporting different teams is natural but anyone crossing the line and using football to commit a hate crime, including online, will be dealt with robustly – which can include a football banning order.
“Likewise, whether your team under performs or doesn’t get the result you were hoping for – there’s never an excuse to take out your frustrations on a loved one. Domestic abuse and protecting vulnerable people are a matter of priority for the Force and this will not change during the tournament.
“It’s also important to remind people that posting racist or homophobic comments on social media is also a criminal offence and working with policing colleagues across the UK, we will bring those committing hate crimes to justice.
“Patrols will be out in key areas during matches to respond to any incidents and people are encouraged to report anything or anyone they are concerned about via 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”
Anyone who has intelligence relating to people who may want to spoil the fun should report it by calling 101 or online via the www.northants.police.uk website.
Hate crime will not be tolerated and anyone subjected to a hate crime is strongly encouraged to report it at www.northants.police.uk/hatecrime so our officers can investigate the incident.
We continue to work closely with statutory and voluntary agencies to ensure victims get the help they need and encourage anyone impacted by domestic abuse to report it to us online at www.northants.police.uk/domesticabuse - always call 999 in an emergency.
To report terrorist and violent extremist material online go to www.gov.uk/ACT. Remain alert at home, work and when out and about, so we all play our part in defeating terrorism and keeping everyone safe.