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Powers to search homes to stop Euro 2020 touts considered

People in Glasgow could have their home searched for counterfeit goods by council officers.

Hampden: Stadium to host four Euro 2020 matches next year. SNS Group

People living in Glasgow could have their home searched for counterfeit goods during the 2020 European Championships by council workers in a bid to clamp down on ticket touts.

Legislation has been outlined by the Scottish Government to crack down on touts, fake merchandise and unauthorised street trading at the tournament next summer.

They include new powers for non-police “enforcement officers” to tackle such offences similar to police carrying out a home search with a warrant.

Concerns have been raised by the Greens that the “broad and invasive” proposals could be open to abuse.

Council officers would have the power to search property and vehicles as well as to seize “offending” articles under the plans.

But MSPs unanimously agreed on Tuesday to the general principles of the UEFA European Championship (Scotland) Bill, meaning it can now progress to the next parliamentary stage.

Europe minister Ben Macpherson confirmed residents would need to give consent to allow enforcement officers to enter their homes.

He said the proposals were broadly similar to those given to council officers during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, but pledged to add amendments to the Bill at stage two to “strengthen protections”.

Glasgow is one of 12 host cities for Euro 2020 with an estimated 200,000 visitors expected to arrive during the tournament.

Four fixtures will be held at Hampden Park between June 15 and 30.

The Scottish Greens criticised the decision, taken in April, to introduce new legislation, despite the fact it was agreed back in 2014 that Scotland would host Euro 2020 matches.

Holyrood’s culture, tourism, Europe and external affairs committee only had the time for two evidence sessions on the Bill at stage one.

The party claims the purpose of the new enforcement powers is “largely to protect the status of the multi-billion-pound corporations sponsoring the matches”.

Green MSP Ross Greer told MSPs: “The committee did not have enough time to properly scrutinise the Bill. This rushed timescale was, I believe, avoidable.

“It was known about winning the bid to host the championship in 2014 that legislation may be required. That was five years ago.”

He added: “This isn’t really an acceptable way to go legislating, it is certainly not good practice.”

Branding the proposed new powers “a concerning move”, Greer continued: “The police have clear lines of accountability and oversight mechanisms.

“And while those mechanisms do not function perfectly, giving police-like powers to non-police officers who do not have equivalent oversight mechanisms leaves open scope for abuse.

“These powers include the power to seize and destroy property, to enter and search premises, which can be undertaken on the low threshold of an enforcement officer acting on their own judgment if they think the action is appropriate.

“This would allow local authority officers to search premises or a vehicle or a container without a police officer present, or even without a warrant, acting only on suspicion a corporate brand is being ripped off.

“These are broad and invasive powers.”

He added: “For these broad powers to be enacted for the protection of commercial rights is excessive and unjustified.”

Macpherson said the Scottish Government recognised provisions in the legislation could be “clearer”.

The minister said: “The enforcement provisions are almost identical to those contained in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games Act 2008 and are similar to enforcement powers already included in other pieces of Scottish and UK legislation, and they are also supported by Police Scotland.

“Nevertheless, I recognise from the committee’s scrutiny and my own deliberations that it is possible to make these provisions clearer and that it may be helpful to strengthen protections in some areas.

“As a result, the Scottish Government will bring forward amendments at stage two in order to respond to a number of the points that have been raised by the committee.”

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