Police crackdown sees football related arrests up by 60%

The Home Office has responded firmly to an increase in incidents of abuse and disorder at matches

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The number of football related arrests soared by nearly 60% last season, according to latest figures from the Home Office.

It follows a police crackdown on those responsible for growing levels of violence linked to football.

The new figures show that 2,198 arrests were made in the 2021-22 season, 59% higher than in 2018-19, the last season before the pandemic.

In addition, 1,308 people were issued with Football Banning Orders (FBOs) at the end of last season.

516 new orders will prevent those individuals from attending games, including the World Cup in Qatar.

A Home Office spokesperson said they had responded firmly to concerning reports of a rise in disorder, pitch invasions and abuse of players and staff at football matches.

Over the last year the Home Office has extended Banning Orders to cover online hate crime for offences connected to football.

The department said it was also committed to adding class A drugs convictions to the list of offences for which a FBO can be imposed.

Home Office Minister Jeremy Quin said: "Our football clubs are at the heart of our communities, and it is unacceptable that the game we all love is tarnished by a minority of selfish troublemakers.

"The increase in football-related arrests shows that police are taking firm action to stop this disorder and preserve the enjoyment of the game for fans and families, which I wholeheartedly support."

The data released today shows that incidents were reported at 1,609 football matches, more than half of all games last season.

The illegal use of pyrotechnics happened at 729 games.

561 matches reported missile throwing incidents.

And anti-social behaviour involving youth supporters was recorded at 444 games.

Published for the first time today, statistics show that police investigated 74 separate incidents of online hate crime related to football last season.

Following recent changes to the law, people convicted of online hate offences could now also be issued with Football Banning Orders.

The National Police Chiefs Council Lead for Football Policing, Chief Constable Mark Roberts said: "Disorder is a problem that has not gone away, and throughout the whole of last season we saw an increase in crime at football matches across the country - from the Premier League right down to the National League.

"Following constructive talks with the Premier League, EFL and FA, we are keen to support our partners in delivering their proposals, which include the introduction of stadium bans for people who enter the pitch, as well as those who use pyrotechnics.

"We are also pleased that the Government is adding Class A drugs offences to the banning order legislation. This will provide police with another option to tackle criminal and anti-social behaviour by those who are under the influence of drugs."

Douglas Mackay, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for West Midlands and CPS Sports Lead Prosecutor, said: “Over the past football season, we have seen a significant rise in football-related criminality compared to pre-pandemic levels. At the CPS, we play a crucial role in tackling these crimes and making our national game inclusive, and safe to watch and play in.

“There is no place for violent and hateful criminal acts in football, and incidents such as these have a significant negative impact on victims.

“The CPS is currently working with the police, football clubs, football bodies and charities to seek to stamp out this blight on football.”