A small number of representatives of Fans Against Criminalisation visited the Scottish Parliament in April. A few days before departure one of the organisers was phoned at work by the police to ask what the arrangements were for the visit. On the morning of the visit, the group were approached in George Square by two uniformed officers just prior to departure to Edinburgh and told 'we will wait for you coming back'. At the Parliament itself the group were met by 2 officers as they left their coach and a further 4 or 5 officers outside the door of the parliament who were clearly waiting for them. We are advised by MSPs that this is an unusually high police presence even when there are groups of citizens visiting Parliament.
This follows on a very heavy police and security presence at our last visit to the Scottish Parliament on the day the Offensive Behaviour Bill became an Act.
Siobhán McMahon MSP, who invited us to Holyrood in April, met yesterday with the Head of Security in the Parliament, and asked for an explanation for the police presence both inside and outside the building and the heavier than normal security. The reply? She was told that these arrangements were in place because the Police Service of Scotland has specifically requested them. Further evidence, if any were needed, that the the police in this country have a very specific and negative agenda in relation to Celtic fans and their organisations in general and against Fans Against Criminalisation in particular.
Superintendent Andy Bates in response to a letter from Siobhán McMahon asking about the behaviour of his two officers in George Square, tried to imply that it is normal practice to approach relatively small groups in the Square and ask if they are 'alright'. Leaving aside the fact that this is utter nonsense, it is now becoming very common for individuals associated with this campaign to be approached in a variety of circumstances - in the street on a Friday night; in a pub watching a match, travelling in Europe, attending bedroom tax rallies - to be approached by officers to ask if they are 'alright'. Is it just us, or does that seem odd to you?
We have been repeatedly told over the last couple of months that the Crown Office is going to publish statistics which will show us that the Act is working. We look forward to seeing those, although if the ones already released under question by the tireless Ms McMahon are anything to go by, they will have a hard job using those to justify this level of intrusion into the entirely legitimate, lawful and democratic activities of private citizens....even if they are Celtic supporters!