Police unlikely to bar fans from Paris match

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The Independent Online

New powers to arrest known football hooligans and take away their passports are expected to be used sparingly in the run-up to England's match against France next weekend.

New powers to arrest known football hooligans and take away their passports are expected to be used sparingly in the run-up to England's match against France next weekend.

Police sources said a few known ringleaders could be prevented from travelling to the match, in Paris. But one senior officer said he would be "surprised" if hundreds of suspected hooligans were rounded up during the build-up to Saturday's match.

Under the controversial new law, which was rushed through in the wake of violence at Euro 2000 in the early summer, police can arrest anyone they believe is planning to cause trouble and take their passport in the five days leading up to an international game. Suspected hooligans could then find themselves in court facing a ban of up to 10 years from matches at home and abroad.

Police are considering targeting ringleaders who have been seen instigating violence at foreign matches. Ron Hogg, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said they would be seeking to stop "organisers who are starting the trouble then moving into the background when police move in". Forces pass information on thugs operating from their area to the National Criminal Intelligence Service, and operations will be "intelligence-led" before the Paris match, Mr Hogg said.

But they have not had time to collate information on all suspected hooligans since the Football (Disorder) Act was passed at the end of last month.

The Home Office minister Lord Bassam of Brighton said: "Sadly there is no panacea available to wish [thuggery] away, but the Paris game is an opportunity to test the implementation of the new provisions."

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