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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 October, 2004, 17:55 GMT 18:55 UK
Fall in football hooligan arrests
Police generic
On average there are 1.6 arrests per game
Arrests at football matches have fallen by 10%, while the number of fans banned from games has risen.

Home Office figures show there were 3,982 football-related arrests during the 2003/4 season, compared with 4,413 the previous year.

Home Office Minister Caroline Flint said the statistics were "encouraging", but she warned against complacency.

Over 36 million supporters attended league, cup and international matches last season.

The vast majority of games are understood to have been trouble-free.

LEAGUE MATCH ARRESTS 2003/4
Portsmouth - 146
Leeds United - 109
Manchester United - 108
Cardiff City - 107
Sunderland - 93
Hull City - 90
Plymouth Argyle - 78
Tottenham Hotspur - 77
Nottingham Forest - 73
Manchester City - 70
Aston Villa - 70
The statistics, covering England and Wales, reveal that banning orders are at an all-time high, with 2,596 people subject to the measures which prevent them from attending domestic and international football matches.

The figure represents an increase of 45% over the 1,794 people who were under banning orders in August 2003.

Portsmouth fans were the worst offenders, with 146 arrests at league matches over the season - mostly during some tense south coast derbies with rivals Southampton.

Second on the list were Leeds, with 109 of the club's fans being arrested at league fixtures, while 108 Manchester United fans were also picked up by police.

Ms Flint said that while the statistics were "very encouraging", they also reflected "a lingering, if small, domestic disorder problem".

Our tough legislation and targeted policing operations are proving an effective deterrent to trouble-makers
David Swift
Association of Chief Police Officers

"We will continue to ensure maximum use of the banning order legislation by providing ring-fenced funding to the police to proactively target known hooligans."

Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) spokesman David Swift said: "Rigorous controls and investigations by the police are having a positive effect."

The findings extend to international matches and, Euro 2004 in particular, as well as domestic ones.

The number of arrests of England supporters decreased from 261 to 70 during 2003/04.

There were no arrests or any evidence of anyone subject to a banning order attempting to travel to matches overseas.

From personal experience, it's very, very effective
Former hooligan Andy Nicholls on his banning order
Courts in England and Wales have the power to impose football banning orders on conviction for a football-related offence.

They can also impose an order if they are satisfied an individual has previously caused or contributed to violence or disorder at football matches.

Andy Nicholls, a former hooligan who is under a banning order, said: "I have to stay a radius of 10 miles from any Everton game. I have to sign on in police stations on a match day.

"I have to hand in my passport and sign on every time a British team is playing abroad. From personal experience, it's very, very effective."

Alan Bloore, deputy chairman of the Football Supporters' Federation, said: "Whilst we were initially against banning orders, they appear to be working.

"We are, however, slightly concerned about situations where these orders are issued without sufficient evidence or a proper appeals procedure, which seems to happen in some cases."


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SEE ALSO:
Football hooligans face total ban
02 Sep 04  |  Scotland
Airport patrol for football thugs
31 Aug 04  |  Manchester


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