A TOP police officer has branded Rangers fans who held a party in George Square as “completely and utterly irresponsible” and defended his force’s response to the event.

Bernard Higgins, Assistant Chief Constable of Police Scotland, was addressing MPs at the Scottish Affairs Committee this afternoon.

He was asked by SNP MP Mhairi Black about what lessons could be learned from the incident in George Square three weeks ago, when Rangers fans gathered to celebrate the Ibrox side winning the Scottish Premiership.

He said: “I have to go on record and say that I thought the police response was exceptionally professional and proportionate, supported by the findings of John Scott QC.

“The reality is we couldn't arrest our way out of that situation.”

The spontaneous party on March 7 saw hundreds of Rangers fans pack into George Square. Flares were being used and memorial benches for people who have died were smashed and broken.

Politicians criticised the fans, and the police’s response with the SNP’s Sandra White condemning the force.

She said in Holyrood: "Why did the police escort thousands of fans, people, through the streets of Glasgow, openly breaking all the Covid regulations, drinking openly in the street, urinating in the street, causing mayhem in the streets of Glasgow and George Square?

"Why was it part of a so-called operation to march and escort them down to George Square... how can that be a safe operation?"

A review of the force’s response to the mayhem was carried out by John Scott QC, chairman of Police Scotland's Independent Advisory group (IAG) and was published yesterday.

It found that officers acted proportionately when they failed to disperse fans and the ‘light touch’ approach may have helped to prevent conflict.

Mr Higgins told MPs today that those involved were “completely and utterly irresponsible” and added: “I think the lessons we learned from it was implemented as a reference for last weekend's Old Firm match...

“I did a lot of media in the run up to it and was very clear with my messaging [saying] 'The safest place for you is in the house.'

“However, given the events of two Sundays ago, if you persist then we will still engage with you, we will still encourage you to leave, but if you don't then be prepared for a robust engagement by our officers and the likelihood that you are opening yourself up to arrest.

“The George Square event, it was spontaneous. I think the people who were responsible for that, the people engaged in it, they were completely and utterly irresponsible, but the Police Scotland response I thought was really proportionate and professional.”