Police across the north-east will be increasing patrols this weekend as one of the world’s oldest football rivalries returns to Scotland.
Officers across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray will make their presence felt in pubs, clubs and streets as Celtic and Rangers go head-to-head on Sunday.
However, police are also anticipating a particularly busy weekend due to the Easter holiday reaching a close, and are predicting many locals may be looking for one last hurrah before returning to work.
Speaking yesterday, chief inspector Richard Craig, area commander for Aberdeenshire South, said extra patrols would be sent out across the Granite City and communities throughout the Grampian region.
As the head of violence reduction for the north-east police division, he has been tasked with stamping out alcohol-related violence “from Aberdeen city centre to Fraserburgh and Elgin”.
The Old Firm meet at Hampden on Sunday at noon for the Scottish Cup semi-final for the first time since February 2015.
It comes off the back of the Ibrox club securing a place back in the top tier of Scottish football.
Ch Insp Craig said: “As part of our proactive preventative patrols, we are targeting areas where it is likely to be busy this weekend. Pubs will be showing sports events, which will include the Old Firm game.
“We have got big games of football right across the country, English and Scottish. And the Old Firm match might not be as significant in the north-east, but a lot of pubs will still show that game.
“My message to people is to go out and enjoy what might be the last of the Easter holidays before returning to work on Monday, but do so safely and responsibly too; and for people to watch their alcohol consumption.
“Alcohol features all too regularly in reported violence and anti-social behaviour and I’d like to remind people that drinking too much can put you at risk and lead you to becoming involved in situations you would avoid if sober.”
Extra officers from the police’s divisional violence alcohol reduction unit will be among those on the beat.
Ch Insp Craig added: “If the line is crossed and a crime is committed, we will do everything we can to ensure those responsible are brought to justice.