Football thugs from the West Midlands and Staffordshire face World Cup travel ban

Hundreds of football thugs in the West Midlands and Staffordshire will be ordered to hand over their passports ahead of the World Cup.

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In recent weeks teams of officers from forces in Staffordshire, West Mercia and the West Midlands have started planning operations for the big kick off in five months.

As well restricting travel for fans subject to banning orders, police spotters will be stationed at airports to catch those trying to travel on false documents.

And an officer from the West Midlands force is likely to be called upon to travel out to Brazil to help prevent trouble at matches, the force revealed.

Currently there are around 250 supporters of clubs in the West Midlands who have been served with banning orders.

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The figure in Staffordshire is around 40, although that is expected to rise once fans involved in the trouble at the Port Vale against Wolves game last August have been processed through the courts.

All will be ordered to surrender their passports in the weeks before the World Cup begins. Inspector Howard Lewis-Jones, who heads up the West Midlands Police Football Unit, said: “In the weeks leading up to the tournament we require banned supporters who follow West Midlands clubs to surrender their passports. We will also be looking at flights likely to be used by fans. We then make sure our football ‘spotters’ are stationed at airports at these times to locate any ‘at-risk’ people that are attempting to travel using false documents.”

And he added: “There is a strong likelihood that one officer from West Midlands will be travelling to Brazil.” Chief Inspector David Bird, of Staffordshire Police, said : “Whilst it is unlikely large numbers of fans will be travelling, as with every major tournament when England are involved people will be watching games on TV, either at home or in pubs. This poses its own set of problems.”