Old Firm Derby: Glasgow police to visit known domestic abusers ahead of grudge match - reports

The hostile rivalry will be resumed this weekend

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The Independent Online

Police are set to visit known domestic abusers in Glasgow as the city awaits the first meeting between Celtic and Rangers for nearly three years.

Following the latter's demotion to the Scottish third division in 2012, after suffering liquidation, the clash has appeared far less frequently on the football calendar.

However the bitter rivals will lock horns once more at Hampden Park this Sunday in the League Cup semi-finals - after analysis by the Scottish government reported incidents of domestic abuse increased by a third on weekends when Old Firm fixtures were held.

Pamela McElhinney of Glasgow East Women's Aid told The Guardian: "The chaos these games create means that it doesn’t matter if the perpetrator’s team won or lost.

"Women told us that even when their partner’s team won, it often made no difference."

The story of the Ibrox club in recent years has been one of demise, following years of overspending, spiralling debts, and a series of continuing boardroom battles.

As a result, supporters of both side are revelling in the fixture's return with around 50,000 spectators expected to attend.

Former DCS John Carnochan, co-founder of Strathclyde’s ground-breaking violence reduction unit, believes the technique is working.

"It’s been a very effective strategy," he said. "It’s saying to the abuser: we know what happened last time, we’re watching you, don’t do it again.

"But it’s also saying to the wife: we remember, and we’re here."

While football has been making huge strides in moving away from such damning figures, the Old Firm rivalry is one steeped in historical off-field controversy.

The measures are a step in the right direction, however, according to Mhari McGowan, head of service at Assist, an organisation who are in regular dialogue with Police Scotland to support victims of domestic abuse.

"It was the first team of its kind in the UK to tackle domestic abuse in the same way that detectives would a murder.

"The combination of alcohol, possibly drugs, and conflict with others at the game and after it in pubs is a contributory factor.

"But alcohol, drugs, or football matches do not cause abuse. What they do is make an already abusive individual even more abusive."

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