Flare warning to football fans

MP Damian Green
MP Damian Green
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Policing minister Damian Green has hit out at football fans who smuggle flares into stadiums – after a Sheffield Wednesday supporter was caught in the act.

The 17-year-old, from Kilnhurst, was arrested after he threw a flare onto the pitch at Loftus Road when Sheffield Wednesday played Queens Park Rangers.

He admitted the offence, which held up the game for several minutes until the smoke cleared, and was given a youth reprimand by Metropolitan Police.

The teenager has also been banned from all Owls matches indefinitely.

A 19-year-old from Mexborough, who was also arrested over the flare incident, was released without charge but he has still been banned from games by Sheffield Wednesday.

His ban is to be reviewed.

MP Mr Green said flares, often manufactured for military and maritime purposes, can burn as hot as 1,600 degrees celsius and for as long as an hour.

“Football fans might see images of football grounds in other parts of Europe full of smoke and light caused by pyrotechnic devices and think they create a good atmosphere – but they do not. Flares are very dangerous and can cause severe injuries,” he said.

“We are very lucky in British football that no-one has been seriously injured or killed by a flare for a long time, but a fatal incident in Bolivia this year showed just what might happen.

“I am sure the majority of fans who illegally smuggle pyrotechnic devices into matches do not fully understand the consequences – but they could end up leaving someone with life-changing injuries, as well as finding themselves with a criminal record and banned from football.”

South Yorkshire Police’s Deputy Chief Constable Andy Holt, the national lead on football policing, said: “The increase in the use of pyrotechnics at football matches is a concern for the police service because they present a serious risk to supporters.”