Police warn of increase in young football hooligans
Senior police are warning over the possible emergence of a new generation of football hooligans after incidents involving young people almost trebled.
Association of Chief Police Officers figures seen by BBC Radio 5 live show there were 103 incidents last season, up from 38 in 2007.
Overall levels of hooliganism remain low but the trend has sparked concern. However, John Keen from the Football Supporters’ Federation said hooliganism was no longer a major problem.
Internal police figures seen by the BBC show there are now 290 teenagers across the UK banned from football grounds.
Police are worried about the possible emergence of a new generation of hooligans and they say trouble is more focused on the lower leagues where there are fewer resources to control matches.
While the violence is not at the levels of the 1970s and 1980s, the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) says it is seeing disturbing evidence of younger fans becoming involved.
Figures show that almost half (47%) of incidents of disorder last season in England, Wales and Northern Ireland involved youths.
Andy Holt, who speaks for Acpo on football policing, said: “If they’re engaging in football-related disorder at an earlier age then we’re going to be stuck with that sort of behaviour potentially for some while.
“So it is something that we are acutely aware of. People are coming through and engaging in football disorder who perhaps weren’t around in the heyday of football violence 15-20 years ago.
“So it is a worrying trend that the younger element are starting to pick up on this sort of behaviour.”
One of the key tools used to try to tackle the problem are football banning orders. The orders allow the courts across the UK to impose severe restrictions on the movements of potential hooligans around matches.
They will be banned from all football grounds, and can also be stopped from using trains or entering city centres on match days.
Official statistics for the current football season will be published in the autumn but BBC Radio 5 Live has seen figures showing that in September there were 3,211 bans in place across the UK. Some 290 of them were for teenagers, and the youngest was aged just 13.
Excerpt from BBC News