Cocaine on Matchday
There has been an established link between disorder at football games and increasing cocaine use in society, according to Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the UK’s lead on football policing. Over the past two seasons, disorder at football matches has increased (45%), and has been linked to the increase prevalence of cocaine use inside stadiums.
According to the Home Office, 2.6% of 16 – 59 year olds took cocaine in 2017-18, up 2.4% in 2013-14. Cocaine in the UK is becoming cheaper, purer and more accessible than before. A senior football official said, when speaking with The Independent, that it is the “massive elephant in the room”, with police sources claiming that it is “rife” at football grounds across the country.
Football policing units carry out drug checks inside football stadiums with drug detection dogs and swabbing areas such as toilets for cocaine. Arrests are made at the football grounds for cocaine possession. In 2017, cocaine related arrests at football grounds more than doubled from 32 to 68. These numbers may seem small, however DCC Mark Roberts says a reduction in match day policing, due to budget constraints, is the reason for these low numbers. 50% of games are either police-free (11.3%) or spotter only (39.3%).
Inspector Andy Bridgewater, the head of West Midlands’ Police football unit, believes there is a real cocaine problem stating that “there is a really strong correlation today between cocaine use and football-related violence.”
Overall disorder incidents at matches jumped 36% in 2016-17 and again last year, while cocaine related deaths in England and Wales increased in 2017 for the sixth year in a row, from 112 in 2011 to 432 in 2017.
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