Football fans caught with hard drugs to be banned from matches to tackle rise in trouble

Football fans caught taking, dealing or found in possession of hard drugs at matches will be banned, the Home Office has announced.

Under legislation, which will come into force next week, fans who commit Class A drug offences at games will be handed a football banning order (FBO), forbidding attendance between three and ten years, as well as getting a criminal conviction.

The Home Office says the new law follows a rise in football-related arrests last season compared to the one before the COVID-19 pandemic, with an increase in violence and disorder at matches.

Plans for the move were originally unveiled in May, after Boris Johnson said that "middle-class coke heads" are driving crime across the UK.

Policing Minister Chris Philp said: "Class A drug use at football matches is a disgrace which has fuelled some of the shameful behaviour we have seen at games by certain groups of fans.

"Using and dealing drugs is neither safe nor victimless and has no place in society or football.

"That is why we have taken action to make sure anyone who takes or deals drugs such as cocaine at football matches will be prevented from attending games and threatening the safety of the majority of fans, including children, who just want to enjoy the game."

Data published by the Home Office in September showed there were 1,308 people with Football Banning Orders (FBOs) at the end of the 2021-22 season, including 516 new orders issued, preventing those individuals from attending games, including the World Cup in Qatar.

Recent policing operations supported by the UK Football Policing Unit have identified widespread cocaine use around stadiums and on the rail network as supporters travel to games, with clubs and police introducing new measures including using more sniffer dogs to combat this.

Chief Constable Mark Roberts, who is the national lead for football policing, said: "Football banning orders are one of our most effective tools in tackling football violence and disorder and it is right that the law should develop as we identify new challenges.

"This fits well with the coordinated approach we are seeking to take with the football authorities and leagues and its introduction will be supported by operational activity in local police forces.

"Drugs and alcohol continue to be persistent drivers of poor behaviour in football, and wider society, and this is a positive step in tackling the problem."