Football hooliganism: three times as many banning orders compared with previous season in England and Wales
Football disorder has been described as an “elevated problem”
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Data released by the UK Football Policing Unit on Thursday (12 January) showed there were 343 banning orders issued between 1 July and 31 December, an increase of 230% compared to the same period in the 2021-22 campaign. The huge increase in banning orders is seen by police chiefs as evidence of the positive action that officers and the Crown Prosecution Service are taking to tackle the problems behind football disorder, which is still described as an “elevated problem”.
From 10 November last year, anyone convicted of either possessing or supplying class A drugs at a regulated game could be made subject to a banning order. There were 999 football-related arrests in the period covered by the data, an 11 per cent increase on the first half of 2021-22.
Reported incidents at matches were down 19 per cent to 661, but that still represented the second-highest mid-season figure on record. Incidents were reported at 43 per cent of the 1,550 matches covered by the data.
Here is all you need to know:
What is a football banning order?
West Midlands Police explained: “A football banning order (FBO) bans someone from going to football matches for a set period of time. It could also mean you’re not allowed to: be in specific places before or after games. travel abroad for games.
“Each FBO is specific to the person, however, if you do receive one, you’ll have to go to a police station and submit a photo of yourself. You must do this within five days of the order being enforced, give us your passport before and after any game your team plays abroad. We’ll contact you when you need to do this.
“If you go to prison for a football related offence, you’ll be banned from football matches for between six and ten years. If you’re convicted of a football related offence, but you’re not sent to prison, you’ll be banned from football matches for between three and five years. It’s the same if you’ve had a complaint brought against you.”
What do the latest figures show?
Incidents involving supporter drug use increased by 42 per cent, while incidents featuring pyrotechnics increased by 12 per cent. Hate crime incidents at matches were down by 24 per cent – with 157 in the first half of 2022-23 compared to 206 in 2021-22.
However, there were 29 incidents of online hate allegations, a 53 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2021/2022 – 19. Pitch incursions were also down 39 per cent compared to the corresponding period in the previous season – 120 instances compared to 199.
The end of the previous season saw a number of incidents of pitch invasions, including during the EFL Championship playoffs.
What have police said about the figures?
The National Police Chiefs’ Council’s football policing lead, Chief Constable Mark Roberts of Cheshire Police, said: “These figures show that we are continuing to see a worrying level of disorder at football matches across the country at all levels. Whilst the total number of incidents reported is down, this is still the second highest figure we have seen, and it is particularly concerning to see a rise in pyrotechnics, missiles, drug use and attacks on stadium staff.
“We have seen some positive strides made this season including the introduction of football banning orders for people caught in possession of drugs and the introduction of stadium bans for people who enter the pitch, as well as those who use pyrotechnics. The increase in arrests and football banning orders also demonstrates that the police are taking positive action to tackle the problems, working closely with the CPS.
“But what the figures show is that disorder at football has sadly not gone away, and we are continuing to work with partners including the Premier League, EFL and FA to collectively make football a safe environment for the overwhelming majority of supporters who just want to enjoy the game.”
What are the reasons for rise in banning orders?
Chief Constable Roberts told the PA news agency he thought there were two major reasons for the high number of banning orders being issued: “The first thing is that there have been more fans making themselves eligible for a banning order, and the second thing is that the police and the CPS have been a lot more focused on it. We’ve done a lot more post-match investigations, so as a consequence we’ve put (those individuals) before the courts.
“The next step in the chain is that the courts are now alive more than they were perhaps that there is an issue (with disorder). We still see some quite puzzling rulings by courts where banning orders aren’t issued.”