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UK police chief plays down Moscow taxi crash significance

Mark Roberts said there were no indications that there was anything malicious in the incident that injured eight people.

UK police have been assured by Russian authorities that a taxi crash which injured eight in Moscow was an accident.

Mark Roberts, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for football policing, said his Russian colleagues were quick to share information and allay any concerns.

Large numbers of Russian police are on patrol in public squares and around stadiums in order to deter the threat of terrorism and fan disorder.

I think we just need to be careful over the next few weeks that as soon as something happens we don’t assume the worst Mark Roberts

A video which circulated online purportedly capturing the crash showed the driver ploughing into pedestrians, including two Mexican World Cup fans, on a pavement near Red Square on Saturday.

City police said the Kyrgyz driver told them he briefly fell asleep at the wheel and accidentally hit the accelerator.

Mr Roberts, speaking in Volgograd ahead of England’s first match, said: “I have not seen the video but obviously we’ve discussed it and as far as I understand it that just appears to be an accident.

“There’s nothing we’ve been told that there’s anything malicious about it so I think it’s just one of those things that can happen in a country.

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Mark Roberts in front of the Motherland Calls, the centre of the monument-ensemble Heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad in the city now known as Volgograd (Aaron Chown/PA)

“And I think we just need to be careful over the next few weeks that as soon as something happens we don’t assume the worst.

“It’s important to get the facts and then deal with what the situation actually is rather than making suppositions.”

Asked if he had been given assurances a similar incident would not happen in the city where England are playing, he said: “I think it’s a bit much to ask them there won’t be a road traffic accident.

“I think they’ve told us what they know, as far as we are aware that seems to pan out perfectly straightforwardly.

“We were told about things quite quickly to dispel any concerns.

“There’s nothing to suggest that we’ll get anything other than absolute cooperation.”

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England will play Tunisia in Volgograd (Aaron Chown/PA)

Mr Roberts said the remaining fans on football banning orders who had failed to surrender their passport were being sought and would face court action.

Of 1,312 individuals banned from travelling to the tournament, 1,254 have given up the documents, the Home Office said last week.

And two people were stopped at UK airports after being identified as being a security risk, Mr Roberts said.

“We’ve done our bit, we said we would stop any hooligan fans travelling,” the deputy chief constable added.

“We said the fans who will travel would be genuine, that’s certainly the impression I’m getting.”

Mr Roberts added Russian authorities were determined to ensure it went well and urged fans to be “sensible”.

“We’ve seen there is a high security presence,” he said.

“We are conscious that as with most places there is a terrorist threat so people should see that a a reassurance.

“It’s been great so far, good operation all the way along in the build up.

“There’s a real will to make sure this is a festival, a celebratory event.

“People are really pushing the boat out to make this a great so it’s only common courtesy when we come as guests we show similar respect and be sensible.”

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