A GROUP of Barnsley fans have been handed banning orders following disorder in the town centre – with police saying the bans will continue to be dished out to yobs engaging in football-related violence.
On May 19, officers attended Church Street following reports that a group of men were involved in disorder prior to the Reds’ League One play-off semi-final clash with Bolton Wanderers.
Following the match – which saw Barnsley win 1-0 – further incidents were reported after fans invaded the pitch at Oakwell, with some individuals taking flares onto the pitch.
An investigation by South Yorkshire Police’s football intelligence unit, involving public appeals to find those responsible, led to a total of 16 men being identified.
Investigating officers put eight of those identified before Barnsley Magistrates’ Court, charged with public order offences, while the remaining eight received conditional cautions, restorative justice or referred to a youth offenders’ team.
Lewis Brettoner, 24; Clark Powers, 32; Jake Allsop, 29 and Ben Brooksbank, 27, were given five-year banning orders.
Dale Mills, 36; Ryan Burgess, 25; Jake Severn, 26 and 35-year-old Scott Seres were handed three-year bans.
The banning orders total over 32 years and bring the force’s total number of football banning orders – relating to Barnsley, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham United and Doncaster Rovers – to 105.
Inspector Louise Lambert said: “A football banning order prohibits anyone attending a football fixture, or the celebrations in the local area prior or post-match.
“We will not tolerate football crime and related disorder.
“We want football fixtures to be events where families can attend, feel safe and everyone can have an enjoyable time.
“Those who pose a risk to this or use the match and feel good-spirit to commit crime will be put before the courts.
“Since the beginning of April, we have obtained 25 football banning orders within South Yorkshire.
“We now have over 100 active and will seek to bring more against fans if they cannot behave in an acceptable manner.”
Chief Constable Mark Roberts, football policing lead at the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said anyone who commits an offence at a football ground could expect to face the consequences of their actions.
He added: “There’s been concerning levels of disorder at football in recent years including assaults on stewards and numerous hate crimes.
“This behaviour will not be tolerated and is not something that the real fans attending football matches should have to witness.”
Professor Geoff Pearson, an expert in football-related disorder and hooliganism, said the use of banning orders to prevent further incidents from those convicted of football-related offences is ‘utterly sensible’ and praised South Yorkshire Police’s work.
“The policing of football in this country has taken massive strides over the last decade and now we have a situation where the vast majority of matches pass peacefully.
“Those bans have played a significant role in reducing overall levels of violence and disorder, though what is less clear is the impact of bans on people who have not been convicted.”