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Football arrests ‘fall by 24%’ says Home Office

The number of arrests from football matches involving teams from England and Wales has fallen by nearly a quarter, the Home Office has said.

Arrests at international and domestic games in 2011-12 fell by 24% to 2,363 – 726 fewer than the previous year.

Policing minister Damian Green said it meant football-related arrests were “at an all time low”.

Reasons for arrest included racist chanting, missile throwing, ticket touting, violence and public disorder.

Alcohol offences, possession of offensive weapons and breaching banning orders were all stated as reasons for arrests last season.

Tough banning orders have been used since 2000 to tackle disorder.

The number of banning orders issued fell to 2,750 from 3,173 but some 500 new banning orders – which are time-limited – were imposed during last season.

An average of 0.72 arrests were made per match, according to the Home Office figures gathered by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for the first time.

There were 1,215 arrests made inside stadiums during the 2011-12 season and 1,148 arrests made outside the grounds from all competitions in England and Wales.

Match attendances topped 37 million and the figures – which covered offences at International and European club matches, plus Premier League, Championship, League One, League Two and Blue Square Conference – suggested that there was one arrest for every 15,782 spectators.

Some 27 arrests were made among the 100,000-plus contingent of English club football fans who travelled abroad to 47 Champions League and Europa League matches.

But there were no football-related arrests among fans at overseas international fixtures, including England fans who attended the 2012 European Championships in Ukraine and Poland.

‘Lingering threat’

“The downwards trend in football-related arrests is continuing, although there remains a significant risk it will escalate if efforts to prevent and tackle football-related disorder are reduced,” stated the report.

Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters’ Federation, said the “dramatic fall in the number of arrests” underlines the fact that “the overwhelming majority of fans reject football violence of any sort”.

“There’s simply no place for it inside or outside our stadiums,” he said.

Mr Clarke added: “The overall picture is a very positive one and the FSF wants to make sure this downward trend continues – we believe it can do so and reaffirm our commitment to a multi-agency approach involving fans’ groups, the football authorities and the police.”

Similarly, the policing minister said the low arrest figures were a “testament to our hugely successful model of football policing”.

“Where hooliganism was once described as ‘the English disease’, we now set an example for others to follow,” said Mr Green.

However, he added that, despite this progress, “football disorder has not been eradicated and remains a lingering threat”.

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