Police are warning football fans about the dangers of using pyros at matches after two incidents at Northampton town games since the start of the season.
Nationally, there has been a growing trend of football supporters taking pyros such as smoke grenades, flares and fireworks, into football matches in the belief their use creates a more exciting atmosphere and a buzz around the ground.
However, police are warning fans that 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.
The warning comes after two incidents at Cobblers matches where flares have been used since last weekend.
One flare was let off in the away stand at the Mansfield game at Sixfields on Saturday.
There was also another incident involving a flare at Wolves home ground, Molineux, last night. It has not yet been confirmed by police which fans were involved in the second incident.
PC Nick Price from Northamptonshire Police is hoping the campaign, which was launched by the Football League last December, will make supporters more aware of the potential dangers and the criminal consequences of using pyros, and ultimately stop people taking them into stadiums.
He said: “We’ve been increasingly concerned about the 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. If they are caught, they risk getting a criminal record and even a caution will stay on their record, meaning it could affect their employment prospects for years to come.”
Last season there were five smoke bomb incidents at Sixfields Stadium, three during Coventry City matches and two during Northampton Town games.