British police ‘peacekeepers’ will travel to Qatar in bid to keep supporters out of trouble at the World Cup with drinking alcohol outside fan zones, swearing and public displays of affection all offences that can lead to arrest
- British police ‘peacekeepers’ are set to be in place at the World Cup in Qatar
- Specialist UK officers will intervene to ‘calm down’ fans who risk breaching laws
- Britain sending contingent of 15 police officers to help fans avoid confrontation
British police ‘peacekeepers’ are being deployed to Qatar to help boisterous football fans avoid arrest at the World Cup.
Specialist UK officers will intervene to ‘calm down’ supporters who risk breaching strict morality laws.
Drinking alcohol outside fan zones, swearing and public displays of affection are all offences that can lead to arrest in the hardline Islamic country.
British police ‘peacekeepers’ are being deployed to Qatar to help football fans avoid arrest
Qatar is hiring hardened police officers from Pakistan and Turkey to help enforce law and order during the tournament, which starts on November 20.
And for the first time at a World Cup, Britain is sending a contingent of 15 police officers to help fans avoid confrontation with the security forces. These peacekeepers – known as ‘supporter engagement officers’ – will act as intermediaries to try to ‘de-escalate’ situations.
About 7,000 England and Wales fans are expected to travel to Qatar and a further 20,000 expat Brits live in the country.
Chief constable Mark Roberts says supporter engagement officers will act as a ‘smiling face’
British police chiefs have spent months talking to authorities in the Gulf state to plan for a smooth tournament, including explaining to their counterparts that ‘noisy’ England fans are not necessarily being aggressive.
Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on football policing, said: ‘The Qataris have looked at various policing styles and we have explained our view of how to work with football fans and what we think will work.
‘If you are a local officer and have a crowd of 1,000 people, who may or may not be drinking, chanting in a different language, just because people are being noisy and bouncing up and down doesn’t mean there is aggression.’
Drinking alcohol outside fan zones, swearing and public displays of affection are offences that can lead to arrest in Qatar
He said the role of the supporter engagement officers, all of whom are experienced British football police officers, would be to act as a ‘smiling face’ who can talk sense to fans before trouble starts.
The Chief Constable stressed British officers would have no jurisdiction or powers of arrest in Qatar and would be acting in a purely advisory role.
He added: ‘We expect the majority to be genuine football fans going out there to enjoy the games. We are certainly not going to be the morality police, but will just be there to say “Calm it down” to any fans who are drawing too much attention to themselves.
‘It is a very different culture and we are anxious to help fans who might inadvertently cause problems.’