'Revenge attack' fans searched

POLICE were forced to invoke special powers to help curb hard-core football hooligans bent on a suspected revenge attack in Ipswich, it emerged today.Around 80 known yobs from Queen's Park Rangers were foiled in their bid to cause trouble in the town, because of a joint operation by British Transport police and Suffolk Constabulary.

POLICE were forced to invoke special powers to help curb hard-core football hooligans bent on a suspected revenge attack in Ipswich, it emerged today.

Around 80 known yobs from Queen's Park Rangers were foiled in their bid to cause trouble in the town, because of a joint operation by British Transport police and Suffolk Constabulary.

Three BTP officers chaperoned around 70 fans from Liverpool Street station on Saturday morning as they travelled to the game against Ipswich by train.

As things became progressively rowdy on the journey, acting inspector Bob Munn radioed ahead advising action needed be taken after having to give out public order warnings to those spoiling for trouble.


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Renegade QPR fans have gained a reputation with police over the past few weeks for causing trouble at away games. To add fuel to the fire there was known to have been problems between Ipswich and QPR supporters when Town travelled to play at Loftus Road earlier this season.

Insp Munn said: "Several genuine fans expressed concern at having heard rumours there was a revenge attack planned by QPR supporters. During the journey we gave two public order warnings and three people were stopped and searched under the misuse of drugs act. This had the effect of calming behaviour to some extent, and was fed back to police control. The two forces agreed early on that firm intervention was the correct way of policing these people."

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Ipswich area commander chief superintendent Geoff Munns agreed to bring in a Section 60, allowing officers special stop and search powers without having specific grounds to do so.

Insp Munn said although section 60s had been brought in prior to the day of games between Town and Norwich, he could not recall when one had to be applied for while away fans were actually travelling to Ipswich for a match.

When the Liverpool Street train arrived at Ipswich railway station at 11.10am, the London fans were corralled and searched in a sealed-off area at the top of platform two. At least half a dozen of their colleagues had already been spotted arriving 40 minutes earlier.

They were then shepherded across the road to the Station Hotel, which police surrounded until they needed to escort the fans to Portman Road for the game.

Meanwhile a knife, with a four-inch blade and corkscrew, was found in the toilets at the railway station after being discarded, by what is believed to have been a QPR fan.

After the match, which Ipswich lost two-nil, those known to police as 'risk supporters' were taken back to the station by officers.

However, despite being put on a train back to the capital, three police dogs were needed to assist police in preventing around 80 fans getting off the train at Colchester and Witham, in an attempt to return to Ipswich in their quest for trouble.

Acting sergeant Paul Thompson of the BTP said: "It was a joint operation between the BTP and Suffolk police. It did successfully result in their being only limited public disorder. Without a doubt the travelling fans would have been fighting in the town.

"It was imperative we had police dogs. If we had not have had those, we would have been in trouble."

Sgt Thompson said he has reported a 17-year-old Watford man to the Crown Prosecution Service for disorderly behaviour. The CPS will now decide how to proceed in his case.

Opinion - see page 6.

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