Police target racism from the terraces

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The Independent Online
FOOTBALL HOOLIGANS who use racist chants and abuse against black players are being targeted by undercover police officers.

The Metropolitan Police has carried out the first two successful operations against racist "supporters" in which dozens of officers were used secretly to record and photograph offensive chanting.

The initiative comes as the Home Office will announce today proposals to give stiffer penalties against racists and hooligans at football matches.

A stricter vetting programme to try to stop hooligans following the England team abroad was unveiled by the Football Association yesterday.

The National Criminal Intelligence Service has warned about a disturbing trend of football related violence in and around grounds this year.

The NCIS said officers were becoming increasingly worried at the number of hooligan incidents this season. A dossier of 22 outbreaks of violence includes details of a battle between 200 fans from Manchester United and Coventry on a train in September.

Incidents so far this season have included a CS spray attack in a pub on Norwich fans by Birmingham supporters and a disturbance on a London to Sheffield train last weekend.

Bryan Drew, head of the NCIS strategic and specialist intelligence branch, said: "Although it is too early to say whether the overall downward trend for football related arrest figures over the past five years is being reversed, the signs are not encouraging."

Sir Paul Condon, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, yesterday showed film of two undercover operations against racist chanting, both involving followers of Millwall football team in south London.

In the most recent operation, in September, five men aged 19 to 42 where recorded making monkey noises and chanting racist obscenities by an undercover police officer. The "fans" were also filmed.

Under the Home Office proposed clampdown on hooligans, measures expected to be announced today include making the chanting of racist abuse by an individual fan a criminal offence, stiffer fines, tougher exclusion orders to bar known troublemakers from matches in this country and new curbs to stop the sale by touts of tickets to matches overseas.