Police chiefs in South Yorkshire have warned football fans to expect more banning orders to be handed out in a new crackdown on violence.
Deputy Chief Constable Andy Holt spoke out following a court case which resulted in 13 men and a teenage boy receiving bans.
The Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday fans were prosecuted for a mass brawl outside The Bessemer pub, Leopold Street, last summer. Sheffield magistrates heard the city centre fight had been ‘organised violence’.
DCC Holt said there had been an increase in disorder at football matches nationally, but South Yorkshire was bucking the trend.
He said banning orders issued when the legislation was first introduced were coming to an end and there had been an increase in the number of police-free football matches because of the cost of mounting operations when the risk of trouble is deemed low.
There are 67 banning orders in operation in South Yorkshire.
“We have seen a reduction in banning orders nationally and an increase in the number of police-free matches while at the same time we are seeing an increase in incidents of disorder,” he added.
“I want to make sure that South Yorkshire does not follow the national trend. In the year of the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, when we will see fresh inquests, I am determined that we will not see a return to a situation where football matches are not played in a safe environment.”
He said the banning orders served last week should demonstrate the force’s commitment to driving down football-related violence.
“We will be going for more of these. The overwhelming majority of people who watch and enjoy football are decent law-abiding fans and I am determined that the action of a small violent minority are not going to spoil it for the majority.”