Football arrests down as yobs change tactics

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The number of arrests from football matches involving football teams from England and Wales has dropped by nearly a quarter, the Home Office has announced.

Arrests at international and domestic games in 2011/12 dropped by 24 per cent to 2,363, 726 fewer than in the previous year.

It means that football-related arrests are “at an all-time low,” policing and criminal justice minister Damian Green said.

Senior officers are warning, however, that violence is increasingly taking place far away from grounds in public areas such as transport interchanges, motorway service stations and shopping precincts.

There was no police presence at 53 per cent of 
all matches, and over the course of the season officers did not have to make an 
arrest at 74 per cent of matches.

An average of less than one – or 0.72 – arrests were made per match, according to the Home Office figures that were gathered for the first time by the Office for National Statistics.

The number of Home Office banning orders, which were introduced in 2000, have dropped to 2,750 from 3,173, with 500 new banning orders imposed during last season.

Mr Green said: “That football-related arrests are at an all-time low is testament to our hugely successful model of football policing.

“No English supporters have been arrested for football-related offences at the last two major international tournaments, and domestically more than half of all matches had no police presence last season – freeing up officers to be on the beat in their communities.

“Despite this progress, football disorder has not been eradicated and remains a lingering threat. That is why we continue to work closely with European partners for international matches and use tough banning orders against those who step out of line.”

Last month, South Yorkshire Police assistant chief constable Andy Holt, the country’s most senior football officer, called for a nationwide debate on the way matches are policed in the future to contain a worrying rise in violence taking place away from grounds.