Videophone to combat football thugs

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The Independent Online

Crime Correspondent

A network of video telephones is being set up to help combat hooligans and organised violence at this summer's European football championship.

The initiative, promoted by Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, yesterday, is part of an huge package of security measures drawn up in the past year by the police and the National Criminal Intelligence Service. Other techniques include the use of undercover "spotters", special police riot squads, and a national database of offenders.

Security experts from the 16 nations who have qualified for the Euro 96 tournament in June - the biggest sporting event to be held in Britain since the 1966 World Cup - have joined forces to try and stamp out violence between opposing supporters.

A device known as a "Photophone", is being used in and around the eight stadiums at which the championship tournament is to be played. The computer's enable photographs, descriptions, and details such as fingerprints, of known or suspected hooligans to be transmitted instantly from one ground to another, between forces or abroad.