Thugs gear up for season of violence

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The Independent Online

Security chiefs fear the new football season could be the most violent in recent times, with an invasion of armed gangs led by drug dealers and supported by bankers, lawyers and computer experts.

Security chiefs fear the new football season could be the most violent in recent times, with an invasion of armed gangs led by drug dealers and supported by bankers, lawyers and computer experts.

Police are bracing themselves for a new breed of "intelligent" football hooligan - sophisticated and with the ability to use the internet and mobile phones to organise trouble away from the glare of publicity.

The National Criminal Intelligence Service says football hooliganism is becoming more violent with increased use of weapons such as knives, metal bars and CS gas.

Arrests for fans throwing missiles doubled last year and more supporters were detained for chanting racist anthems.

NCIS said that, although the total number of football-related arrests was down slightly last season, the number of "vicious" incidents resulting in serious injury was up.

Gang leaders are also using women to carry weapons to pre-planned fight venues.

NCIS chief Bryan Drew said that CCTV cameras and better policing inside grounds were forcing thugs to become more sophisticated and fight away from stadiums, outside pubs and at railway stations.

he said hardened hooligans also often knew when a game was to be 'police-free', were adept at exploiting spontaneous situations, and now came from a broad spectrum of backgrounds including lawyers, finance workers and computer experts.

He said professional people became involved because they found their work mundane and this was the only outlet available for their aggression.

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