Police operation to target cocaine use at Bristol City’s game against Birmingham City - plus warning over flares

Officers will be swabbing surfaces at pubs around Ashton Gate before and after tomorrow’s game

A police operation targeting drug use, including cocaine, will take place before and after Bristol City’s Ashton Gate for tomorrow’s home game against Birmingham City.

The move by Avon and Somerset Police comes following several incidents of damage and violence, including vandalism of stadium toilets by Cardiff City supporters in January, the force said.

Officers will be swabbing surfaces at pubs around the ground before and after the game to test for prohibited drug.

A warning has also been issued over the use of flares after a 14-year-old was caught with a smoke bomb while trying to enter the ground last month.

Pyrotechnic devices have been discharged at seven games at the ground this season, resulting in a number of supporters being ejected and two arrested, the force said.

Police will be swabbing surfaces around Ashton Gate before and after the game against Birmingham City

Drugs operation

Avon and Somerset Police has announced that at tomorrow’s game against Birmingham City a proactive policing operation to detect illegal drugs will take place.

It comes after a reported rise in instances of disorder nationally.

Superintendent Mark Runacres, area commander for Bristol and our drug strategy lead, said: “It was only in January that we saw significant damage caused to the toilets in Ashton Gate’s Atyeo Stand during the game against Cardiff City, while two men have also recently been sentenced for violence following matches at Ashton Gate – one was fined for punching a police horse while the other was jailed for punching another a man to the floor.

“Those who take drugs such as cocaine are known to have a greater propensity for violence and the aim of the operation is identify how widespread such drug use is. The evidence we gather will then be used to inform policing operations at future football matches.

“While we won’t be proactively looking to test supporters themselves, if officers are concerned about the behaviour of any individuals then it will be something they’ll consider.”

Flares and smoke bombs

The force has also reminded supporters that being in possession of a pyrotechnic device at a football match is a criminal defence, after revealing devices have been let off at seven homes games this season.

The incidents has led to a number of supporters being ejected and two arrested.

And at last month’s home game against Middlesbrough a 14-year-old boy was stopped bringing a smoke grenade in the stadium.

Supt Runacres said: “Last month, ahead of the game against Middlesbrough, a 14-year-old boy tried to bring a smoke grenade in the stadium.

“I accept on some occasions people have not been aware they’re committing a criminal offence but ignorance is no excuse.

“These devices are dangerous – one man suffered second degree burns after a supporter set off a device in the row behind him late last year.”