Police want the power to ban football fans who use cocaine during games, fearing the drugs could be a conduct disorder and violence.
Some England fans were caught on camera openly sniffing white powder at Wembley and elsewhere in London during the Euro 2020 final, which saw scores of people without tickets making their way into the stadium.
Cheshire Police Chief Mark Roberts, who is the national football police official, said The independent he was looking for changes that would allow police to impose football prohibition orders for drug possession.
He said cocaine use was “prevalent” among football fans and had been recognized as a problem by police in stadiums for years.
“Football reflects the increased use of cocaine in society at large, but it can lead to some negative behavior,” added Mr. Roberts.
“Football ban legislation currently specifies alcohol abuse issues, and we would very much like to update it with drug use and make it a trigger in the same way. “
The law allows bans to be imposed if people have been convicted of specific offenses and the move would prevent violence or disorder.
Relevant offenses include “possession of alcohol or intoxication while entering / attempting to enter land,” but there is no equivalent provision for drugs.
Mr Roberts said changing the law “would be helpful and would reflect some practical aspects of what we are seeing,” adding: “It is time for us to consider how contemporary some of the football ban laws are, because time has passed and it is appropriate to examine it and verify that it is fit for purpose.
Labor is backing the call, following reports that people in football crowds “brazenly took drugs and caused chaos” during the Euro.
“The law should be changed to keep pace with the real world – and to reflect what causes and contributes to the disorder,” shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said. “This should include the use of all illegal drugs when it comes to football ban orders.”
Following a wave of racist abuse targeting England footballers following their loss to Italy, Boris Johnson announced that laws would be extended so that online abusers can be banned from stadiums for up to 10 years.
The Home Office said the legislation was “under constant review”, but would not say whether it considered Mr Roberts’ call for drugs.
A behavioral expert has questioned whether cocaine use may have played a key role in the chaos at Wembley on the day of the Euro 2020 final.
Thousands of ticketless fans marched into the stadium and an unknown number broke into, clashing fiercely with stewards and police, after hours of drinking and loud celebrations.
Unrest was reported across the country in city centers and fan areas, following the end of the worst football tournament on record for crime.
Dr Martha Newson, an anthropologist at the University of Kent specializing in football fandoms, said the “cocaine culture” was on the rise.
“Alcohol was certainly a focal point at Wembley on Sunday, but we also have to consider the role that cocaine could have had,” she said. The independent.
“My recent research shows that fan cocaine use is associated with more fan unrest and violence.
“Following a day of drinking while still having the energy and coordination to go through safety at the end of the day would be unusual. For a decade or more, many hardcore fans have used cocaine to maintain their energy in ways that alcohol cannot. Cocaine use has yet to be addressed in football.
Dr Newson published research in May that found self-reported cocaine use among football fans to be above the national average.
Almost a third of those who took part in a survey said they had seen others taking the Class A drug at games in the past year and 6 percent said they took it themselves.
“Football fans can be a population where the aggressive results associated with cocaine use are magnified,” the newspaper said.
“Cocaine use among football fans has been linked to building ‘hyper-masculine identities’ and associated aggression.
“Indeed, cocaine has become a part of ‘boy’ culture and, alongside alcohol, fuels the competitiveness and aggressiveness of the trip to the game, until it is over. “
Research found that football fans who felt ‘very close’ with fellow supporters and took cocaine were ‘particularly likely to report past assault on their rivals’.
Dr Newson said it was not possible to say whether cocaine directly caused violence, due to the role of other factors, including alcohol and strong social ties.
But she added: “I think there is a culture in football right now, just like there has been with alcohol.”
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “Football-related violence and unrest of any kind will not be tolerated, which is why around 1,400 hooligans are currently banned from attending matches under football ban orders.
“The legislation is constantly reviewed and this week the Prime Minister announced that it will be extended so that online abusers can be banned from stadiums for up to 10 years.
“Drugs devastate lives, ruin families and damage communities, which is why we are setting up a new intergovernmental anti-drug unit to tackle the problem. “
Violation of a football ban order is a criminal offense, punishable by up to 6 months in prison or a fine of up to £ 10,000, or both.