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Wednesday, 15 August, 2001, 16:35 GMT 17:35 UK
Football violence on the rise
Police say they are battling a new breed of football hooligan as a report reveals a rise in the number of arrests at football games.

The National Criminal Intelligence Service's (NCIS) annual report shows 3,391 people were arrested for football-related offences last season - up 8.1% on the previous year.

Top 10 offences
Drink-related: 1,186
Disorderly behaviour: 655
Threatening behaviour: 420
Breach of the peace: 351
Running on the pitch: 292
Affray: 165
Ticket touting: 161
Assault: 137
Drugs offences: 111
Throwing missiles: 107

It found there has been a shift in the focus of the violence, with the vast majority of incidents occurring away from the matches themselves.

Hooligans are becoming more organised, using mobile phones and the internet to communicate with each other.

And many are involved in organised crime ranging from drug trafficking to counterfeit goods trading.

Click here to see arrests by Premiership club

NCIS said there were 3,391 arrests for domestic league games in England and Wales in the 2000-01 season, compared with 3,138 in 1999-2000.

There were also more than 750 arrests in domestic and European club competitions and England and Wales international matches.


There is a nasty, ugly and anti-social element in society that clings parasitically to football and just won't give up

Brian Drew
NCIS
And 945 English supporters were arrested at the Euro 2000 competition.

NCIS said that although violence inside all-seater stadiums is virtually non-existent, the problem has shifted to areas such as train stations, pubs and town centres.

"There is a nasty, ugly and anti-social element in society that clings parasitically to football and just won't give up," said Brian Drew, head of specialist operations at NCIS.

"What became the English disease is no longer characterised by the mass terrace affrays and running streets battles that we saw in the 1970s and 1980s.

"But like other infections, new strains of football hooliganism are developing that are clever, resilient and increasingly resistant."

Top 5 for arrests (Premiership)
Newcastle Utd: 191
Sunderland: 166
Manchester Utd: 150
Manchester City: 148
Leeds United: 119
Mr Drew said the Football Disorder Act, which came into force a year ago, was helping to tackle the problem.

More than 518 people had been banned from visiting football matches at home or abroad under that legislation.

But he said he would like to see police and magistrates make more rigorous use of their powers.

Bottom 3 for arrests (Premiership)
Derby County: 28
Ipswich Town: 18
Southampton: 15
"The major area of concern is the ability to travel to other towns and cities with the prime intention of committing crime, whether that be violence, disorderly behaviour or as we now know, drug dealing," he said.

"[The Act] confers a discretionary power on the court to impose additional requirements when imposing a banning order."

Top 5 for arrests (Division One)
Sheffield Utd: 90
Burnley: 83
Sheffield Wednesday: 83
Blackburn Rovers: 61
Nottingham Forest: 51

Mr Drew also called for more of the money made from football itself to be pumped into policing costs away from grounds.

"With the spread of pay-per-view TV, and TV dictating when certain matches are played, such as with an evening kick-off when people have been drinking all day, there is a lot of money in football which police forces would benefit from accessing," he said.

But Football Association spokesman Paul Newman greeted this with a cautious response.

Top 5 for arrests (Division Two)
Millwall: 93
Swansea City: 72
Bristol City: 52
Stoke City: 49
Peterborough Utd: 47
"When you say that a sport ought to pay for a problem that attaches itself to it, there are some pretty deep issues that would arise out of that," he said.

He pointed out that the FA had replaced the England Members' Club - the official supporters' club - with a new organisation called englandfans in an attempt to crack down on hooliganism.

Members had to reapply and be closely vetted. Mr Newman said 4,000 people had been screened so far and 100 expelled, while another 100 were referred to a panel to decide.

Fans' club The Football Supporters' Association said the overall trend for football-related violence is down.

Top 5 for arrests (Division Three)
Hull City: 59
Cardiff City: 40
Darlington: 26
Brighton and Hove Albion: 25
Leyton Orient: 20
FSA spokesman Michael Clarke told the BBC: "Generally there has been a considerable improvement from the situation which existed in the 1970s and early 1980s.

"I certainly feel much safer going to a football ground these days than I did in those days."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Stephen Cape
"NCIS believes the soccer thug of today has moved off the terraces"
Football Association representative Paul Newman
"The rise is not that great"
Dave Woodhall, Football Supporters Association
"Virtually every year, there is a new act of Parliament to combat football violence"

Talking PointFORUM
Violent fans
Can they be stopped? Steven Powell quizzed
See also:

15 Aug 01 | Football
Police fears for Germany game
28 Jul 01 | Scotland
Police fears over late kick-offs
28 Aug 00 | UK Politics
Hooligan bill comes into force
14 Jul 00 | UK Politics
MPs back football thug crackdown
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