New law around drug possession leads to rise in number of football arrests
The number of football banning orders imposed has also risen in the last year.
Football arrests continued to rise last season although the latest increase can be attributed to the addition of drug possession as an offence under the Football Spectators Act, new figures from the Home Office show.
There were a total of 2,264 football-related arrests during the 2022-23 season, up from what was already an eight-year high of 2,198 the previous campaign.
But that increased figure included 200 arrests for the possession of class A drugs, added as an offence under the Football Spectators Act in November 2022, and 101 arrests in England and Wales that related to the World Cup in Qatar.
The figures released on Thursday counted arrests made in England and Wales relating to fixtures played overseas for the first time.
The rise in the number of arrests was reflected in 682 new football banning orders being imposed, the highest number since 2010-11 and up 32 per cent on the previous season, with the total number of banning orders being in force rising to 1,624, up 24 per cent on the previous total of 1,308.
However, the total remains lower than the pre-pandemic number of 1,771. Banning orders last for a minimum of three years.
The Home Office said the number of matches with reported incidents decreased by six per cent.
West Ham topped the table for the number of arrests by club with 89, six more than Manchester United. Leeds had the third highest total with 69, the highest increase (+25) of any club from the previous year.
The figures counted data from matches involving clubs from the Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship for the first time, although there were no arrests at any of the women’s games.
With overall attendance up to 45million at the matches included in the results, the number of arrests worked out at 5.0 per 100,000 fans, down from 5.2 per 100,000 the previous season.
Last year’s figures had been released following a spate of high-profile incidents involving pitch-invading fans – with custodial sentences imposed on a Leicester fan and a Nottingham Forest supporter – but arrests for such offences are down 53 per cent (166 incidents) this time around.
Of the 682 new banning orders imposed, 99.6 per cent were given to males, with 70 per cent of them aged 18-34 and two per cent aged 17 or under.
Manchester United had the highest number with 69, the first time the Old Trafford club had been in the top five for banning orders since 2016-17. Millwall were second with 66.
A total of 123 arrests were made related to overseas matches involving England and Wales. While 101 were connected with the men’s World Cup in Qatar, none were related to the Women’s World Cup.
The number of recorded incidents of online hate crime was 234, up from 103 the previous year, although this rise was attributed to better reporting and recording of such incidents.