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Football arrests fall

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The total number of arrests for football-related disorder fell 9% from the previous year during the 2010-11 season according to new Home Office statistics. The figures include football-specific arrests, such as throwing missiles or pitch encroachment as well as more general offences committed in and around football stadia.

The total attendance at matches across the season was in excess of 37 million, with only 0.01% of fans being arrested (the equivalent to one in every 12,249 spectators). The figures for those fans with football banning orders dropped slightly over the same period.

The figures also show that there were no arrests at more than 70% of matches, while 51% of matches in England and Wales over the season were police free. The average number of arrests per match dropped to below one, while two arrests or fewer were made at 86% of matches.

More than 60,000 fans travelled abroad for matches in the Champions and Europa Leagues, with only 14 arrests being made on foreign soil. There were no football-related arrests of England or Wales supporters at matches overseas last season.

Malcolm Clarke, chair of the FSF, welcomed the figures: “This is further good news which shows that only a tiny proportion of football fans misbehave, with less than one in 12,000 of them being arrested. At the overwhelmingly large majority of games there are no problems, and it is high time football fans got some recognition for this.

“I feel far more at risk walking past pubs and clubs near my house on a Friday or Saturday night than I ever do at a football match. It is also greatly to the credit of the fans of clubs playing in European competitions that so few of them were arrested at their 40 away games in Europe.”

Crime Prevention Minister Lord Henley said: “Football policing is a real British success story. Where hooliganism was once described as ‘the English disease’, we now set an example for others to follow.”

While these figures show supporters in a very positive light, over-zealous policing and stewarding is still one of the most common complaints received by the Football Supporters’ Federation. That is because, as supporters, we are often unfairly policed on stereotypes and reputation rather than actions and behaviour.

This year’s Home Office statistics show that bad behaviour is not only very rare but also on the decrease. We hope this will further encourage all those in positions of power to treat fans in a fair and respectful manner.

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