11-year-old among arrests at Capital football grounds

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CHILDREN as young as 11 have been charged with criminal offences inside the stadiums at Easter Road and Tynecastle, new figures have revealed.

A total of 103 people were arrested and charged by police at the Hearts ground during the last five years, with a further 84 charged following incidents at the home of Hibs.

Breach of the peace was the most common charge, making up 49 of the offences recorded at both city stadiums.

Being drunk inside the ground and possession of alcohol were among the other most-recorded offences while five individuals were arrested under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

More than 50 teenagers were among those charged by police, including four 13-year-olds and six 14-year-olds.

At Tynecastle, the figures from Lothian and Borders Police showed that 14 arrests were made during 2010, the lowest number of offences since at least 2006.

Four supporters were arrested for a breach of the peace and another four for possessing alcohol, while there was one charge each for minor assault and drug possession.

Another supporter was also charged with violating a banning order prohibiting them from entering the ground.

Derek Watson, chairman of the Heart of Midlothian Supporters’ Trust, said: “I think these figures show that the Hearts support is very well-behaved, and the police and stewards should also be commended for their work.

“With 17 arrests in the whole of last year, you would probably have seen that many arrests at every match in the 1970s. But the game, and with it the clubs and supporters, have moved on a lot since then.

“It would be nice to see the figures go even lower still, but I’m still pleased they are at such a low level.”

Last year at Easter Road, a total of 17 people were charged with offences, including a supporter who violated a banning order by entering the ground.

Nine fans were arrested for a breach of the peace while one charge of culpable and reckless conduct was made and another for resisting arrest.

The number of offenders at the Hibs ground rose slightly against the previous year when 14 arrests were made, including a trio of 14-year-olds.

Frank Dougan, a member of the Hibs Supporters’ Association, said: “I think these low figures are very positive news and deserve to be emphasised. It’s a sign that both Hibs and Hearts fans are behaving themselves and is very encouraging.

“With all the talk about sectarianism and bigotry, this shows that the vast majority of fans are well-behaved.”

A Hibs spokesman said that 1.4 million spectators had attended league and cup matches at Easter Road over the last five seasons, with the 84 arrests accounting for just 0.00006 per cent of those attending over the period.

He added: “Easter Road is a venue equipped to welcome all supporters and family groups, and any intimidating or violent behaviour will continue to be addressed immediately.”

amcewen@edinburghnews.com