England and Wales fans praised for exemplary behaviour after ‘zero arrests’ at World Cup
The head of UK football policing has praised British fans who travelled to the World Cup in Qatar for their “exemplary behaviour” throughout the tournament that resulted in zero arrests.
Chief Constable Mark Roberts said to have no arrests of British fans at a major tournament “isn’t something we have seen before”.
England’s defeat to France on Saturday night brought an end to British involvement at the tournament, and with it an end to the deployment of UK police officers in Qatar.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said throughout England and Wales’ participation at the World Cup there were “zero police incidents and zero arrests of British nationals”.
Mr Roberts, NPCC lead for football policing, said: “The behaviour of England and Wales out in Qatar was absolutely exemplary.
“Throughout the home nations involvement in the tournament there were no arrests or incidents to report, which is a credit to all those who travelled.
“In Russia 2018 there were three arrests, but obviously having two teams in this tournament we played double the group stage games, including a home nations derby, which underlines the good nature of our fans.
“I would also like to praise all the UK officers who travelled out to Qatar for the work they have done in helping to keep British nationals safe during the past four weeks.
“The atmosphere at all the home nations games was passionate but friendly, and it would be fantastic to see this replicated at matches back home throughout the rest of the season.”
Mr Roberts added: “Traditionally we do have few arrests of our fans at World Cups, but to have zero isn’t something we have seen before.
“It would be wrong to entirely attribute this excellent behaviour to the restrictions on alcohol in Qatar, but I do think it has helped to some degree.”
Domestically, the NPCC said there have been a total of 531 football-related incidents across the UK since the beginning of the tournament – 150 of which took place on the evening of the England v France match.
“This has resulted in 115 football-related arrests, a high proportion of which were linked to incidents at licensed premises, which tends to emphasise the impact of alcohol,” said the NPCC.
This figure compares with 225 arrests at the same stage during the Russia World Cup four years ago.
Mr Roberts added: “It has also been encouraging to see a reduction in the number arrests in the UK throughout this World Cup so far, but unfortunately we have still seen a number of unsavoury incidents involving people watching football.
“As we move into the last week of the tournament I would encourage everyone who is planning on watching the matches to behave responsibly.”