Euro 2024: 'We've seen people openly taking cocaine' - UK police monitoring fans in Germany

There's no room for doubt in Dusseldorf.

Optimism is high among the thousands of England fans basing themselves in the city for Euro 2024.

Many are feeling confident for the first game against Serbia.

"It's coming home," declares Ben who has travelled with a group carrying a huge flag saying Tewkesbury.

"They're a very strong side, very competitive but I think we have the skills to outmatch them," adds Vic.

Today, the party will move an hour up the road to Gelsenkirchen for the clash and they hope the subsequent celebration.

But it's not just the England fans out in force - British police are also in Germany on the lookout for trouble.

"We have seen people openly taking cocaine off the back of their hands. They're drinking beer that's a lot stronger than they're used to and people tend to get carried away and do things they don't do at home," says PC Stuart Dickerson from the UK football policing unit.

After hours of drinking, a rowdy crowd can quickly turn violent; a smashed bottle or cross word can spark a fight.

So, PC Dickerson and his team of spotters are out on the streets, monitoring the fans and feeding intelligence to their German counterparts.

"The slightest thing just changes the dynamic in the crowd. They're singing a song and all of a sudden, they just turn, and you see the body language change, the chest puffs up," PC Dickerson says.

The game against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen is classed as high risk partly because intelligence is limited about the Serbian supporters attending.

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Many of the young England fans are also unknown quantities, as this is the first tournament they've travelled to due to COVID-19.

British authorities issued around 2,000 football banning orders in recent years but some of those have expired and the spotters have seen some previously banned people among the crowds.

"There are a lot of English supporters that are known to us with previous convictions for football violence across the country.

"So, we've been identifying those people to our guys here and just advising the local police that if a like-minded group, say from Dusseldorf or Italy, were to come through there's every chance that there will be violence," says PC Dickerson.

In fact, PC Dickerson and his team have seen approximately 100 known hooligans.

They'll now report back to German police in the hope of keeping all of England's battles on the pitch.