The continued high number of incidents reported to police at football matches is not the time to consider allowing fans to drink within sight of the pitch, the UK Football Police Office said.
Data released by the Home Office on Thursday morning showed that 37 percent of spectator-allowed games played in England and Wales in the 2020-21 season had incidents reported.
That was slightly less than the 2019/20 season (40 percent), but an increase from 2018/19 (33 percent), the last full season not affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
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Chief Constable Mark Roberts of the Cheshire Police, the football leader of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said the numbers indicated an ongoing problem with disruption in football and labeled the proposed pilot “unnecessary”.
“This trend shows that now is not the right time to discuss big changes in football fields, such as:
“It is clear that there is a link between alcohol and many of these crimes, and one of the key security measures introduced in the Taylor report has already been removed with the reintroduction of standing room.
“Allowing people to drink in the seats would encourage disorderly behavior and is unnecessary as spectators are allowed to drink in waiting areas – this change would be irresponsible.
“Whenever there is a high-profile incident of disorder, there are calls to get through and address issues, which means making sensible decisions about policy and legislation.”
Incidents were reported in 79 of the 212 games that were not fully played behind closed doors in the 2020/21 season, according to the interior ministry report.
Hate crimes were reported in four games, the data showed.
The report also found there were 116 football-related arrests during the reporting period, including 92 related to England games.
Ninety of them were related to England’s games at Euro 2020. The highest proportion of arrests – 43 percent – related to the final against Italy (39), 31 percent to the group game against Scotland (28) and 20 percent to the semi-finals against Denmark (18).
The disorder at the Wembley final was the subject of a Uefa investigation. The football association will know the result of this investigation within 24 hours of the personal hearing it has requested, which is due to take place on Monday.
England coach Gareth Southgate previously feared that a stadium ban could be imposed.
Almost two-thirds of the 116 arrests (73) occurred off-site, compared with 45 percent in 2019-20 and 41 percent in 2018-19.
The number of prohibition orders continues to decline. The data showed that 1,359 were in effect as of August 1, 2021, compared to 1,621 the previous year and 1,771 the year before.
According to the report, 208 new prohibition orders were issued in 2020/21.
The government announced earlier this year that it would extend the prohibition orders to online abuse.
English players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all fell victim to racial abuse online after missing penalties in the last penalty shootout against Italy.
Chief Constable Roberts said: “We continue to work very closely with social media platforms to identify criminals who have posted hateful messages and the police have three following the heinous abuse our English players were subjected to after the final Criminal proceedings initiated.
“Anyone who commits a crime outside or inside a football field must also expect the consequences of their actions. This behavior will not be tolerated and should not be seen by the real fans attending football matches. “