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Thursday, 16 August, 2001, 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK
Newcastle defend safety record
Police outside St James's Park
The club say most trouble happens outside the ground
Supporters of Newcastle United Football Club (NUFC) have been assured they are safe at St James's Park.

More Newcastle fans were arrested last season for football hooliganism than supporters of any other Premiership club, according to the latest figures.

The statistics published by the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) show there were 191 arrests for football-related offences.

NUFC safety officer David Pattison said: "We were naturally concerned to learn that Newcastle United headed the table for arrests in the Premiership, a matter we take very seriously.

Organised hooliganism

"We are very keen to emphasise that much of the report refers to public disorder away from football stadia, and as such is not directly attributable to Newcastle United Football Club."

Superintendent Graham Stafford of Northumbria Police said technology was playing a part in organised hooliganism.

He said: "If you are talking about someone hell bent on causing trouble, then from that point of view, they have become more sophisticated.

"They have a network where they readily talk to other groups.

"Although they may be a group associated with one particular football club, in certain circumstances they may join together."

Excellent safety record

NUFC has installed 50 closed-circuit television cameras and employed 500 stewards at home games to control the crowd.

Mr Pattison added: ""We have an excellent safety record within St James' Park and it is a very safe place to watch football."

The number of arrests in England and Wales last season increased by more than 8% to 3,391.

The figures include offences such as violent disorder, criminal damage, throwing missiles and ticket touting.

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