Belfast Telegraph

Minister: 65 UK football fans arrested at Euro 2016

Some 65 UK football fans have been arrested at Euro 2016 and "let the country down", a Home Office minister has said.

England topped the arrests list for the home nations with 45 supporters detained in France followed by 11 from Northern Ireland and nine linked to Wales, according to Mike Penning.

The early days of the football tournament were marred by trouble - both inside and outside of the stadium - involving Russian and English supporters in Marseille.

And Tory frontbencher Mr Penning said the vast majority of UK fans have been "tarnished" by a small minority who were involved in the "most abhorrent violence" seen for many years.

Tottenham Hotspur supporter Mr Penning, speaking during a Westminster Hall debate on football hooliganism, said: "With regards to the Euros, 65 UK supporters were arrested - 45 English, 11 Northern Irish and nine from Wales.

"Let me give the House an indication of the offences. So England, six for assault, 14 for public order, 13 for drunkenness, nine for criminal damage, two for drugs and one for ticket touting.

"Northern Ireland - two for criminal damage, two for public order, one for drunkenness, four for assault, one for ticket touting, and one for pitch encroachment, it used to be called invasion.

"Wales, a limited number - nine that let the country down - five for drunkenness, two for assault and two for possession of a flare."

England crashed out of the tournament following an embarrassing 2-1 defeat to Iceland in the second round.

Wales have progressed to a quarter-final encounter with Belgium after beating Northern Ireland 1-0.

Mr Penning, after speaking about the violence in Marseille, noted: "It is enormously disappointing that the vast majority of football fans that went to support their country, no matter what part of the United Kingdom they come from, were tarnished by a small minority of people that ended up in the most abhorrent violence probably we've seen for many, many years.

"We must not condone it and (must) come down with the full force of the law and make sure, for instance, that those arrested - and they don't have to have been prosecuted - have banning orders put on them for what they did out there."

Mr Penning also said the police "can do more" and will receive extra support.

He added: "But actually it's the football fans who need to say 'enough is enough'.

"There is so much money in football today, the clubs themselves have a real responsibility as well.

"One of the issues I have with my police football unit is getting the clubs to pay the bills to the police after the matches, when it's actually probably loose change for just one of their forwards or one of their defenders who let my country down in the Euros in the way they played."

Tory MP Gareth Johnson (Dartford), who led the debate, called on the Government to consider taking extra steps beyond banning orders.

He said: "(This is) to consider prosecutions in the UK for offences connected to football hooliganism committed abroad.

"There are a number of offences already which are tried in this country when they're committed abroad.

"Would you at least consider bringing football hooliganism-type offences within the scope of that current legislation?"

Mr Penning replied: "I will look at that. It does open up a really difficult area of other types of prosecution.

"So at the moment we prosecute people for committing offences abroad, for very, very serious offences - and some of these offences were very serious.

"Let me look at that and we'll see how we go but it might have consequences way beyond what we're trying to do."

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