Football fans are being warned by Northamptonshire Police about the dangers and criminal penalties of bringing in smoke grenades, flares or fireworks into Sixfields Stadium.
In the past two years, there has been seven incidents of a ‘pyro’ being used at the Cobblers’ home ground, which is also used by Coventry City.
Nationally, there is a growing trend of football supporters taking smoke grenades or flares into football matches in the belief their use creates a more exciting atmosphere and a ‘buzz’ around the ground.
PC Nick Price from Northamptonshire Police has launched a campaign against the pyros, which will include a ‘pyro amnesty’ trial at four games at Sixfields Stadium between April 21 and May 3.
Mr Price has been working on the campaign with lawyer Alison Gurden, a specialist in football supporter law and football policing from Gray’s Inn Square Barristers’ Chambers, Northampton Town and Coventry City football clubs, the Football Supporters Federation 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 a few incidents at Sixfields, we 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 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.”
Mr Price said he would be highlighting the law relating to the possession and use of ‘pyro’ at football matches, through leaflets and social media.
Bins will also be placed outside the stadium to allow supporters to safely dispose of any ‘pyro’ on a ‘no questions asked’ basis.”
Since the start of the 2012/13 season there have been seven incidents of ‘pyro’ being used at Sixfields Stadium – three at Northampton Town matches and four at Coventry City games.