FOOTBALL hooligans thought to be behind running street battles before an Edinburgh derby have been targeted in a string of police raids.
Teams of officers swooped yesterday seeking to arrest seven suspects accused of being ringleaders in violence which erupted near Tynecastle Stadium. The men were all alleged Hibs “casuals” wanted in connection with fights in Dalry Road before the January 3 match with Hearts.
The game itself was marred by ugly scenes inside the ground, including fans allegedly spitting into the face of a young ballboy and a flare being hurled which nearly struck a nine-year-old Hibs fan.
The crackdown was part of the city’s first Campaign Against Violence (CAV) Day which saw more than 60 extra officers, including senior police chiefs, hitting the streets. Officers visited addresses in Clermiston, Firrhill, Midlothian and East Lothian in an attempt to detain the suspects.
Four men had been arrested by yesterday evening, two aged 38, a 43-year-old and a 26-year-old, while officers continued attempts to trace the others.
Chief Inspector Mark Patterson, who led the operation, said: “The alleged offences related to general violence, disorder and assaults. We had good CCTV and witnesses from the scene and, combined with old-fashioned police work, we’ve been able to identify those allegedly involved.”
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the level of disorder witnessed at Tynecastle at the January match demonstrated a clear link between all-day drinking and widespread thuggery inside football grounds.
Mr MacAskill called for football chiefs to launch a review into late kick-off times which created the conditions for prolonged drinking and fuelled disorder.