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Crime and victims

Football disorder

Football disorder, or hooliganism, is less common today than it once was, but when it does happen it’s a serious threat to the safety of other fans and the general public.

Taking responsibility

Of the millions who annually attend football games, only a very small minority actually cause problems. Even so, their behaviour is a threat to public safety and to the UK’s reputation overseas and, as such, we are committed to stamping it out.

Foul play

Football hooliganism is a crime. It may be less common than it once was, but it remains a serious menace.

Football disorder has unfortunately been associated with English football for over 100 years. But its severity and character is always evolving. Today, there is little trouble in football grounds themselves and fans can attend matches in a safe environment.

But the gangs who associate themselves with clubs do still pose a threat, usually in the form of pre-arranged violence.


We have a comprehensive strategy for tackling football disorder. Its main features are:

  • extensive use of the tough football banning order legislation introduced after Euro 2000
  • close and effective relations with partner agencies, including the police, football authorities and supporter groups
  • maximum cooperation with overseas police and civil authorities
  • close contact with fan groups, support for fan-led initiatives like the fans embassies and working to encourage fans to take responsibility for their behaviour and reputation

We have put in place very tough but fair laws that we expect the police and courts to use and are funding targeted police operations aimed at banning known hooligans.

Banning orders and arrests

The purpose of football banning orders is to prevent known football hooligans from causing further trouble at home and abroad. Bans last between 2 and 10 years, and the precise conditions can be tailored on a case-by-case basis.

If necessary, the courts can ban recipients from using public transport on match days, and from visiting other potential ‘hotspots’, such as town centres, pubs and bars during risk periods.

Statistics on arrests and banning orders

Each autumn we publish statistics on the number of arrests and banning orders issued during the previous football season.  Below are links to the last five season’s stats:

Facts & figures

  • More than 37m people attended games in 2007-08
  • 3,842 people were arrested for disorder connected to matches
  • Of those arrests, 373 were for violent crimes, an increase of 33 over the previous season
  • on average, 67% of matches were problem free, and resulted in no arrests
  • 60% of football-related arrests took place outside or away from the grounds
  • 3,172 known troublemakers were subject to football banning orders in 2007-08
  • arrests for racist chanting were down 47% to just 23 - the lowest on record

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