New data released by the UK Football Policing Unit reveals that the number of arrests at English football matches in the first half of the season has risen to 999, a 10% increase on last term.
- The number of arrests at English football matches has risen 10% in the first half of the season, with an increase in drug-related offenses and assaults on officers.
- The use of pyrotechnics, missiles, and attacks on stadium staff have also increased, along with drug-taking and possession.
- 343 football banning orders have been issued, a 230% increase compared to the first half of last season.
- The PFA has reiterated calls for coordinated and long-term strategies to tackle the issue, with an immediate focus on stopping large-scale pitch invasions.
- The NPCC lead for football policing, Chief Constable Mark Roberts, also emphasised the need for action to protect players and called for a hard-line approach to those who threaten, provoke, or abuse players on the pitch.
The report covers the period between July 1 and December 31, 2022, including fixtures from the Premier League to the National League as well as European and international fixtures played in England and Wales. Despite the overall decrease in incidents, there were increases in the use of pyrotechnics and missiles, attacks on stadium staff, drug-taking and possession.
Today, the PFA has reiterated calls for a coordinated and long-term strategy to tackle the problem. With an immediate focus on stopping large-scale pitch invasions seen at the end of the 2021/22 season, which resulted in an unsafe and dangerous environment for players and club staff.
A spokesperson for the PFA said: "Our members have told us they feel isolated and vulnerable when surrounded by thousands of fans on the pitch and are, essentially, left to look after their own safety and security. That's just not good enough, and it shouldn't be happening.”
“We’ve always been clear that the measures introduced at the end of last season are welcome, but success will be judged by how the authorities manage similar incidents going forward.
“There is a lot of work still to be done. It requires detailed planning and, crucially, investment is going to be needed. Players have been very clear to us that there can’t be any excuses for repeats of what happened at the end of last season.”
Chief constable Mark Roberts, the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) lead for football policing, also emphasised the need for action to protect players, saying: "Fans shouldn't go on the pitch, players shouldn't go in the stands, that makes it all really simple. When that gets blurred then it makes it a bit more difficult to unpick."
He added, "We do need to take a hard line and where people are going on the pitch to threaten, provoke, abuse, then that's a criminal matter and needs to be dealt with that way."
The latest police figures highlight the urgent need for action to protect players and club staff.