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1987: Police crack down on soccer hooligans
Police have carried out a series of dawn raids and made 26 arrests in their biggest operation so far against soccer hooliganism in England.

Officers say seven men have been charged.

Uniformed and plain clothes officers have been working for five months on Operation Fulltime aimed at netting the ringleaders of the gangs of hooligans which follow West Ham and Millwall.

The raids were synchronised to take place at 0600 GMT at 30 addresses in London, the Home Counties and the Midlands.

Officers armed with arrest warrants woke the sleeping football fans and told them they were being taken for questioning about soccer-related violence.

Some police chiefs are really getting to grips with the hooligan situation
Graham Kelly, Football League
Scotland Yard said the investigation had been initiated "in the belief that violence and serious disorder were not always spontaneous".

The undercover operation has used closed-circuit TV footage and, in some cases, surveillance film taken from a police helicopter, or "heli telly", to identify the suspects.

Some of the violence relates to a clash on the Harwich ferry between West Ham and Manchester United fans travelling to the Netherlands to see their teams play in a pre-season friendly.

Millwall fans were identified after trouble at a game against Luton when supporters went on the rampage, ripping out seats and throwing them at home supporters and police. The trouble led to the introduction of identity cards at Luton games and a ban on away fans.

During the raids, police seized an air rifle, knives, a machete and spiked ball and chain, as well as newspaper cuttings reporting on the activities of the two teams' hooligans.

The investigation has been welcomed by the secretary of the Football League, Graham Kelly.

He said: "It seems that some police chiefs are really getting to grips with the hooligan situation."

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Watch/Listen
Mounted police confront hooligans
Hooligans became an increasing problem

Cameras follow police swoop


In Context
Football hooliganism became an increasing problem at matches during the 1970s and 1980s.

In 1985, 39 Italian fans died in the Heysel stadium disaster. They were crushed when a wall collapsed during a stampede by Liverpool supporters. It led to a five year ban on English teams in Europe.

At home, Millwall fans in particular gained a reputation for troublemaking. The trouble at Luton was one of the worst incidents involving the club's supporters.

After the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989, in which 96 people were crushed to death in overcrowded terraces, the Lord Justice Taylor report made a number of safety recommendations.

They included all-seater stadiums and new ticketing systems.

The new measures led to a gradual reduction in hooliganism.

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