A TOP judge has warned football supporters not to use matches as an excuse for domestic abuse.
The Lord Advocate, the Rt Hon Frank Mulholland QC issued his warning ahead of this weekend’s Old Firm derby.
Previous derbies have coincided with a sharp rise in the number of domestic abuse cases.
Lord Mulholland said: “Figures from the start of this year showed a clear link between Old Firm football matches and a rise in the number of domestic abuse cases reported to the Procurator Fiscal in Glasgow.
“Domestic abuse is never acceptable and I find it particularly disturbing to see a link with an Old Firm match but this is the trend we are now seeing.
“Football-related disorder and violence, whether inside the stadium, in the streets and pubs afterwards, or at home will not be tolerated.
“I urge football fans to enjoy the match wherever it is watched and behave responsibly. I earnestly hope that the post match discussion will be exclusively about the football.”
Strathclyde Police said they would be maintaining a strong presence on Glasgow’s streets on match day.
Chief Superintendent Bob Hamilton, of Territorial Policing, said: “Additional officers will be on duty to deal with any demand that arises post match, but we would hope that people will heed the warnings that are given and that the number of victims decreases during this period.
“Our priority in the Force is to keep people safe. This strategy will continue and proactivity will be a remain a strong focus for us.”
Domestic abuse victims have also been encouraged to report any violence.
Head of the Domestic Abuse Unit at Glasgow’s Procurator Fiscal Office, Anne Marie Hicks, said: “I would like to reassure the public that we take crimes of domestic abuse, whether it is physical or emotional, extremely seriously.
“I would urge anyone suffering in this way to come forward and report it, and I can assure you that your case will be dealt with sensitively and according to the particular circumstances.”
Woman’s groups welcomed the strong line being taken on football-related domestic violence.
Lily Greenan, Manager of Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “The ‘hard-man’ culture in Scotland, as a reflection of men’s football and drinking habits, is commonly and undeniably linked to spikes in reporting of domestic abuse.
“Let us be clear, there is no excuse for domestic abuse and we wholeheartedly support Strathclyde Police in their firm stance on this matter, and the proactive approach taken by both to bring abusers to court.”