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Police call time on ‘hooligan element’ at Yellows clashes
POLICE have pledged to tackle what they describe as the minority “hooligan element” of Oxford United supporters.
The promise comes in the wake of the trouble that marred the match with Bristol Rovers at the Kassam Stadium in February.
And the message has been backed by the club, which says troublemakers are not welcome.
An investigation this year dubbed Operation Boot saw 32 arrests and several football banning orders handed out. Last Friday six Oxford fans were cleared at Oxford Magistrates’ Court of the charges against them.
Supt Christian Bunt, the Oxford police area commander, pictured below, said: “That was an indicator for me that there is clearly a hooligan element that follow Oxford United.
“Oxford has definitely got a minority of supporters that will follow the games but will look to cause and engage in disorder if they get the opportunity.”
Mr Bunt said he had followed the Yellows since the age of four. He said: “I don’t want to see the club I’ve supported for years be tainted by the actions of people intent on causing problems. “This year we are cracking down on any football-related disorder and will be taking a very strong, positive stance on that.”
He said the force would now review all games and target those behind any bad behaviour. Those responsible would be first be spoken to and then hit with Acceptable Behaviour Contracts.
If these were breached, Mr Bunt said the force would chase criminal convictions and match banning orders.
Mr Bunt said police were targeting “persistent aggressive and abusive behaviour” and those who “goad” others. He added: “We need to make sure we totally clamp down on that behaviour associated with Oxford United football.
“If people are acting in an antisocial manner at the games, they will be reported to the club.
“If their behaviour progresses, they can either get banned from the club or we will be pursuing anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) and other criminal convictions, with the view of getting them banned if appropriate.”
He also said extra officers would be sent to big games, such as ties with Portsmouth and Bristol Rovers.
He said: “We don’t have a particular problem here but we don’t want it to become a problem. “For me, it is about changing their behaviour so we don’t get to the stage where we have to arrest people.”
A club spokesman said: “Although it is rare at our matches these days, misbehaviour is totally unacceptable and people who get involved are not welcome. Oxford United will continue to work with the police to stamp out bad behaviour at matches, including the use of Asbos and club bans.”
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