Football-related disorder arrests 'at record low'

Football supporters
Image caption The number of football fans arrested in England and Wales reached an all-time low last season

Arrests for football-related disorder in England and Wales are at a record low, the Home Office has said.

Just over 3,000 people were arrested at games involving English and Welsh teams last year, a drop of 9%.

The Home Office says the latest figures are a major success story with progress being made at both international and domestic levels of football.

The number of people under football banning orders has also fallen, down to 3,173 from 3,248 last year.

During last season, 3,089 people were arrested, a drop of 302 compared with the 2009/10 season.

This is the lowest figure since records began in the 1984/5 season and equates to an average of one arrest per match.

There were no arrests at 70% of games in the 2010/11 season, and only one English fan was arrested at the World Cup, after he confronted members of the England team following a match in Cape Town.

The Home Office said football banning orders continued to have "a positive effect" a decade after their introduction.

A spokesman said the success was also due to the "great strides" police had made in working with the football community and a change in attitude by fans themselves.

Since 2000 about 92% of people whose orders have expired are assessed by police as no longer posing a risk of football disorder.

'Small minority'

Crime Prevention Minister Lord Henley said: "Football policing is a real British success story. Where hooliganism was once described as 'the English disease', we now set an example for others to follow.

"But we are not complacent and we will expect to see England fans continue their good behaviour at next year's European Championships, where the eyes of the world will be on them once again."

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Holt, who leads on football policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: "Over the past two decades the UK has made steady progress in reducing football-related violence and disorder.

"The service has worked hard with football clubs and football supporters' associations to ensure that genuine fans can attend games without incident and it's reassuring that the figures reflect that a very small minority of fans have come to police notice."

Malcolm Clarke from the Football Supporters' Federation said credit had to be given to fans for the "continuing good trend".

"There's been a considerable change in ambience compared to what it used to be. I feel far safer going to a football match than going near bars and clubs on a Saturday night," he said.

Mr Clarke said there was not one clear reason why violence had dropped, but it was partly because people became aware of the damage it was doing to football.

Chelsea fans represent 10% of all the banning orders in the Premier League with 105, compared to 101 against Manchester United fans and 98 against Newcastle United fans.

New laws

In the Championship, Cardiff City fans have 143 banning orders, the most of any club in England and Wales, followed by Leeds United with 106 and West Ham with 100.

League Two's Dagenham and Redbridge is the only group with no banning orders, the figures showed.

The number of those attending regulated matches in England and Wales reached 37 million last year, meaning those arrested represent less than 0.01% of that season's spectators.

The figures relate to the Premiership and football league in England, as well as a number of non-league competitions in England and Wales, European club matches and internationals.

In Scotland, 33 fans received banning orders in 2010 and 84 so far in 2011. The increase is due to a new football policing unit and a greater focus on the orders, a spokesman for the Scottish Government said.

Earlier this month, new laws to tackle religious hatred and bigotry related to football were passed by the Scottish Parliament.

It means people could be jailed for up to five years for behaviour which could cause public disorder in and around matches.

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