Police deploy sniffer dogs at Easter Road ahead of Hibs v Celtic match
Police deployed detector dogs at Easter Road today in a bid to end shameful scenes that have rocked Scottish football this season.
Fans heading into Easter Road for the match against title-chasing Celtic had to pass the dogs to prove they were not carrying drugs, flares or smoke bombs.
Both sets of supporters were urged to arrive early at the stadium amid heightened security to avoid lengthy delays.
Hibs chiefs hope stopping contraband being smuggled in will help tackle the anti-social behaviour - reportedly fuelled by cocaine and drink.
The club also plans to spend up to £100,000 on a state-of-the-art CCTV system powerful enough to allow security staff to identify troublemakers and pass details on to police and prosecutors.
Yesterday, a Hibs spokesman told fans the checks would cause delays but were necessary.
He said: “With a large crowd coming to the game, supporters are asked to make their way to the stadium early - leaving plenty of time to take your seat.
“For the next two home games, we will have specially-trained sniffer dogs on site as part of our ongoing efforts to ensure supporters can enjoy the safest and most enjoyable match-day experience at Easter Road.
“Able to detect illegal substances and pyrotechnics, the dogs are used to working at high-profile events of this nature - whether it’s at gigs or sporting events around the country.”
Thug behaviour has threatened to derail Hibs good season, with one fan recently jailed and banned from football stadia for a pitch-side confrontation with Rangers captain James Tavernier .At the last Easter Road match against Celtic, an empty bottle of Buckfast was hurled at Hoops winger Scott Sinclair, leading to widespread condemnation and calls for a heightened security.
Speaking earlier this month, Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster said: “They (sniffer dogs) have been used at other grounds in Europe, so let’s have a go.
“If we can create deterrents, whatever they may be, we need to use them.
“We want to make sure people come to the games, enjoy the experience and make sure football is not tarnished by this and get away from unacceptable behaviour.”
The dogs will also be used at next weekend’s Edinburgh derby against Hearts.
The last derby at Tynecastle Park was mired in trouble and Police Scotland officers are still investigating a number of incidents.
During the match, three flares or smoke-bombs and a coconut were thrown on to the £1m Tynecastle pitch in a string of embarrassing scenes.
Hibs’ Marvin Bartley was also subjected to racist abuse. A 19-year-old has been charged in connection with a hate crime and a 38-year-old man was arrested in connection with the use of racist language. Another 19-year-old was arrested over a flare being thrown and a 16-year-old boy was arrested in connection with a coin being thrown.
Hearts owner Ann Budge announced she was closing a section of the stadium to send a signal that bad behaviour will not be tolerated.