POLICE have charged 32 people with 37 alleged offences, including serious assault and carrying an offensive weapon, in connection with loyalist violence the day after the independence referendum.

Chief Constable Sir Stephen House praised officers for containing a stand-off between groups of Yes and No supporters in Glasgow's George Square on September 19.

Hundreds of police, including mounted officers, were mobilised to try to keep pro-independence voters and passers-by safe from a group of unionist extremists celebrating the No victory.

Sir Stephen described the events to his main civilian oversight board, the Scottish Police Authority, yesterday. He said: "Yes had campaigners gathered in the square - and I would stress there was no trouble with that. However, later on a group of people who arrived who you may wish to characterise as No campaigners.

"They began to taunt the Yes campaigners. It was a pretty tense situation."

Some loyalists were waving Better Together and Labour Party placards but were not thought to be part of the official campaign.

Police throughout the referendum campaign are understood to have been braced for trouble from violent loyalists with links to football hooliganism, the far right and Northern Irish politics.

However, officers did not expect this to represent anything other than a tiny minority - and the Scottish Police Federation criticised the "exaggerated rhetoric" of those who talked up trouble.

Its president, Brian Docherty, said: "Any neutral observer could be led to believe Scotland is on the verge of societal disintegration, yet nothing could be further from the truth."

Sir Stephen said: "This was a somewhat unsavoury part of the generally extremely well-behaved referendum.

"It was a difficult event, especially as it was played out on social media."

The chief constable praised the courage of his officers, who were backed by British Transport Police.