Hundreds of 'schooligans' are banned from football - one aged just 12

More than 100 school-age fans - including a boy of just 12 - have been banned from football matches in the past three years, shock new figures show.

Sunday, 19th June 2016, 5:18 pm
Updated Sunday, 19th June 2016, 6:23 pm
Police out in force at a Tyne-Wear derby. A fan aged just 12 received a football banning order following trouble after one game

The official statistics were revealed after dozens of England fans were arrested in the first week of the Euro 2016 in France, including a 16-year-old in Marseille.

Five Sunderland fans aged under 18 are banned from attending matches, along with 38 who follow Newcastle United.

That includes the 12-year-old, who was banned following widespread disorder in Newcastle city centre after the Magpies lost 3-0 at home to arch-rivals Sunderland in April 2013.

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Northumbria Police said the boy threw missiles at opposition fans and was abusive.

Since that disorder, the force said it has visited schools to warn pupils that even being verbally abusive at matches could get them banned from following their teams.

Cleveland Police said a 14-year-old fan had received a banning order in the past three years but would not give details of the club he supported. It said another 11 under 18s were banned.

The figures indicate a lack of consistency nationwide, with one major force having no teenagers on a football banning order, while another smaller force has barred 43 youngsters from matches.

They also suggest that football hooliganism, which has never been totally removed from the game since the bad old days of the 1970s and 1980s, retains an allure for teenagers.

There were also concerns that banning orders, introduced following trouble by England fans at major international tournaments, should be handed out as a last resort to children.

During the research, stories emerged of kids getting "casual" clothing labels sewn into their school uniforms, while others, branded "schooligans", pose on social media and attempt to look hard.

Concerned police are visiting schools to warn pupils they could end up with a serious criminal record, or be badly hurt, in organised violence.

The statistics were revealed in Freedom of Information requests to police forces showed more than 100 under-18s received banning orders in the three years up to March this year.

It was not possible to get an exact figure, as some forces would not or could not provide them, and the Home Office does not collate banning orders by age.

Amanda Jacks, a case worker with the Football Supporters' Federation, said young people should be steered away from trouble before banning orders and the criminal justice system are considered.

She said young fans behaving in a generally anti-social manner are targeted by the police, in a way that other gangs of youngsters are not.

Speaking about the "schooligan" phenomenon, she said: "There's no doubt that there is a glamorisation of football disorder and kids are attracted to it for the wrong reason.

"There does need to be some consistency - if 14, 15, 16-year-olds are getting banning orders, that should be the last resort, not the first."

The Home Office said in September there were 2,181 people with a football banning order.