Fans reminded of the dangers and penalties of smoke grenades, flares and fireworks
Police in Northampton are still working on a campaign to warn football fans about the dangers and penalties of smoke grenades, flares and fireworks – known as ‘pyros’.
Nationally, there is a growing trend of football supporters taking ‘pyros’ into football matches in the belief their use creates a more exciting atmosphere and a ‘buzz’ around the ground.
In reality, they pose a danger to everyone in the stadium and it is a criminal offence to enter or attempt to enter a stadium while in possession of fireworks, smoke grenades or other ‘pyro’ and to set them off in a public place.
PC Nick Price from Northamptonshire Police is hoping the continuing campaign, following on from a ‘pyro amnesty’ trial at four games held at Sixfields stadium last season, will make supporters more aware of the potential dangers and the criminal consequences of using ‘pyros’, and ultimately stop people bringing them into the stadium.
Nick is again working on the current campaign with Alison Gurden, a barrister specialising in football supporter law and football policing, Northampton Town football club and colleagues from Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue.
He said: “We’ve been increasingly concerned about the growing use of ‘pyros’ at football games across the country and, although we’ve only had one incident at Sixfields so far this season, we still want to prevent more from happening.
“We need people to understand the potential dangers and also realise that possession and use of ‘pyros’ in a public place is a serious criminal offence that could even result in a prison sentence.
“We’ve noticed discussion on social media about the difference between a smoke grenade and a flare or firework. The general view of supporters appears to be that smoke grenades are a 'bit of fun' whereas there is a general acceptance that the use of flares in a stadium environment is dangerous.
However, smoke grenades can also be dangerous and to set them off in a public place is illegal.
“It is also an offence for anyone under the age of 18 to be in possession of ‘pyro’ in a public place and there is some evidence to suggest that young people are being bullied into taking smoke grenades into football games against their will.
“If they are caught, they risk getting criminal record and even a caution will stay on their record, meaning it could affect their employment prospects for years to come.
“We’ll be highlighting the law relating to the possession and use of ‘pyro’ at specific football matches, through leaflets and social media, throughout the 2014/2015 season. At specific matches, we’ll be putting bins outside the stadium to allow supporters to safely dispose of any ‘pyro’ prior to entering the stadium.”
In the 2013/14 season there were five incidents of ‘pyro’ being used at Sixfields. So far this season, there has been one incident. The ‘surrender’ bins will be used at the Oxford United game with more fixtures to be identified.