Football arrests decline by a quarter

Police on horseback
Police on horseback are a common sight at football grounds, but hooliganism is increasingly less so. Photo: PA

The number of arrests from football matches involving 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.

There was no police presence at 53 per cent of all matches last season, in which 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.

Tough banning orders have been used since 2000 to tackle football violence and disorder, which once scarred the sport and saw hooliganism termed "the English disease".

Banning orders, which are time-limited, dropped to 2,750 from 3,173.

There were 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.

"Where hooliganism was once described as 'the English disease', we now set an example for others to follow.

"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."

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