Football arrests 'highest in years' & disorder on the rise - police

Arrests at football matches across the top five English leagues are at their highest levels in years, with fan disorder “getting worse”, according to the UK’s football policing lead.

The latest data on the first half of this season – which has seen the return of fans to capacity stadiums – follows Baroness Casey’s recent report into the Euro 2020 final violence, which found “ticketless, drunken and drugged-up thugs” could have caused death as they stormed Wembley.

There have been more than 800 football-related arrests in the first six months of the season, alongside more than 750 reported incidents of disorder.

Chief constable Mark Roberts, the head of the UK’s Football Policing Unit, said cases of anti-social behaviour among younger fans is a particular area of concern.

Roberts has previously voiced his concern on newly-introduced safe standing ‘rail seats’ as well as a pilot scheme to allow fans to drink within sight of the pitch.

He said increased levels of disorder is expected after a major tournament – but the current level of activity is “concerning”.

More trouble, more arrests, fewer games – the key stats


  • Data collected from 1 July to 31 December 2021 from English domestic competitions only and compared to same six-month period for season 2019-20 – the last one without restrictions pre-pandemic
  • 802 football related arrests so far this season – an increase in 47% from 547 arrests in 2019-20 – the highest number of arrests since UKFPU started collating in season 2015-16
  • Incidents of disorder reported at almost half (48%) of all games across Premier League, EFL and National League – compared to 34% in season 19-20
  • There were 759 reported incidents including flares, missiles and hate crime – up 36% from 560 in 19-20
  • 210 incidents were involving young supporters under the age of 25, up from 154 in 19-20. The five year average of incidents involving under 25 was 168
  • That’s despite fewer games this season (1,581) due to postponements, than in 19-20 (1,670)
  • The biggest increase in reported incidents of disorder is in the Championship and National league. Up 58% in Championship and 56% in national league from 2019-20
  • Police presence at 66% of football matches across top 5 English divisions, compared to 46% of games in 19-20.

Original article published 21.01.2022 on the BBC Sport website.

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