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Last Updated: Friday, 11 June, 2004, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
England fans head for Portugal
England football fans at the Rossio square in central Lisbon
Up to 60,000 England fans are expected at the tournament
Thousands of England football fans are flying to Portugal on Friday, ready for the start of Euro 2004.

British and Portuguese police are mounting a big security operation to prevent hooliganism.

Three thousand England fans are already in Portugal - more than 10 times that number are expected to follow in the next 48 hours.

Police monitoring ports and airports have stopped 22 people, about whom they had intelligence, from leaving Britain.

Five have now received banning orders preventing them from attending the championships.

Another six have been given bail conditions that prevent them from travelling.

Ten others are waiting to appear in court.

We paid 350 each for France tickets and 300 for Switzerland - but we would spend whatever it takes
Jonathan Connolly and Mark Dudgean

And one is free to travel to Portugal after being released by the court.

Many England fans arriving on flights to the Algarve said they had been surprised by what they considered the low level of policing as they left the UK.

In Portugal, 24 British police officers are working alongside their Portuguese colleagues.

They are acting as spotters, looking out for potential troublemakers, reports BBC correspondent Damian Grammaticas in Lisbon.

Meanwhile three alleged English ticket touts have been arrested on the Algarve.

England fans in the Algarve, Jonathan Connolly and Mark Dudgean, both of Burnley, told BBC News Online some tickets were changing hands for 700.

If people are smoking but not kicking each other, why on earth would an officer go and ask 'Is that cannabis?'
Isabel Canelas
Portuguese police

They had bought their tickets on the internet, they added.

"We paid 350 each for France tickets and 300 for Switzerland - but we would spend whatever it takes."

Portuguese police say it is an offence for anyone to buy or sell tickets on the black market.

While police will be on the lookout for drunken behaviour they will not arrest England supporters for smoking cannabis in the streets, despite it being illegal, the Guardian reported.

The stance was adopted after recommendations from Dutch authorities which said the approach worked successfully when they policed the English during Euro 2000.

Isabel Canelas, a spokeswoman for the Portuguese police, said: "Everyone knows that everyone here can smoke. The police are doing another kind of job and their priorities are different.

It would be quite an unusual sight to see two or three thousand England fans draped in their flags 'whiffing a bit of blow', or whatever we are calling it these days
Deputy Chief Constable David Swift

"We won't be hiding behind doors waiting for someone to smoke a joint. We have to use common sense.

"If people are smoking but not kicking each other, and not making a problem, why on earth would an officer go and ask 'Is that cannabis?'."

But the head of the English police team in Portugal, Staffordshire Police deputy Deputy Chief Constable David Swift told BBC News: "English people should be adhering to the standards of law that we follow at home.

"From our perspective it would be quite an unusual sight to see two or three thousand England fans draped in their flags 'whiffing a bit of blow', or whatever we are calling it these days."

Deputy Chief Constable Swift also denied banned hooligans were on their way to Euro 2004.

"There is a lot of myth attached to that," he told BBC News.

England defender John Terry during training on Wednesday

"If you have actually got people's passports, I don't think it is as easy as people proclaim."

The police had the passports of more than 2,000 of the 2,300 England fans subject to banning orders, Deputy Chief Constable Swift said.

"Obviously some of the individuals will make an awful lot of claims - we know one or two have been speaking to the press, but we have visited their homes and know they are still there," he told BBC News.

Most England fans were decent people, Deputy Chief Constable Swift said.

But he added: "You do not get that many people, a substantial number of whom have had drink, without there being a risk."

Fitness test

A suspected football hooligan was arrested on Friday after trying to board a flight to Europe.

Carl Power, 39, of Wirral, Merseyside, will appear before Liverpool magistrates after being arrested attempting to board a flight from the city's John Lennon Airport to Palma, Spain.

After running his name through a national database, police discovered he is on bail facing a charge of conspiracy to cause violence after being arrested in February in a crackdown on violence between Tranmere Rovers and Wrexham fans.

Meanwhile, defender John Terry will miss England's Euro 2004 opener against France on Sunday, after failing a fitness test.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's James Pearce
"The police presence is minimal and discreet"



SEE ALSO:
Police on airport Euro fan watch
09 Jun 04  |  West Midlands


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