British police peacekeepers will travel to Qatar to avoid problems at the World Cup with drinking alcohol outside fan zones, swearing and public displays of affection all offenses that could lead to arrest.
- British police “peacekeepers” will be in place at the World Cup in Qatar
- UK specialist officers will step in to ‘calm down’ fans who risk breaking the law
- Britain is sending a contingent of 15 police officers to help the fans avoid the clash
British police ‘knights of peace’ are being sent to Qatar to help football fans avoid arrest at the World Cup.
UK specialist officers will step in to ‘quiet’ supporters who risk falling foul of strict morality laws.
Drinking alcohol outside fan zones, swearing and public displays of affection are offenses that can lead to arrest in the hardline Islamic country.
British police ‘peacekeepers’ are being sent to Qatar to help football fans avoid arrest
Qatar is hiring hardened police officers from Pakistan and Turkey to help enforce law and order during the tournament, which starts on November 20.
And for the first time at a World Cup, Great Britain is sending a contingent of 15 police officers to help fans avoid confrontation with security forces. These peacekeeping personnel – known as ‘support engagement officers’ – will act as intermediaries to try to ‘de-escalate’ situations.
Around 7,000 England and Wales fans are expected to travel to Qatar and another 20,000 British expats live in the country.
Police chief Mark Roberts says supporter engagement officers will act as a ‘smiling face’
British police chiefs have been talking to authorities in the Gulf state for months to plan a smooth tournament, including explaining to their counterparts that “loud” England fans are not necessarily aggressive.
Chief Constable Mark Roberts, head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council on football policing, said: “The Qataris looked at various policing styles and we explained our vision of how to work with football fans and what we think will work.
“If you’re a local officer and you’ve got a crowd of 1,000 people, who may or may not be drinking, singing in another language, just because people are loud and bouncing up and down doesn’t mean there’s aggression.”
Drinking alcohol outside fan zones, swearing and showing affection in public are all offenses that can lead to arrest in Qatar
He said the role of fan engagement officers, all of whom are football-experienced British police officers, would be to act as a “smiling face” who can talk sense to fans before trouble starts.
The police chief stressed that British officers would have no jurisdiction or powers of arrest in Qatar and would be acting in a purely advisory role.
He added: “We hope the majority are genuine football fans who come out there to enjoy the games. We’re certainly not going to be the morality police, but we’ll just be there to say ‘quiet’ to any fans who are getting too much attention.
“It’s a very different culture and we’re keen to help fans who may unintentionally cause trouble.”