Liberty and the FSF team up to fight for human rights of football fans

18 December 2008

Although the fans were well-behaved and the pub landlord had no complaints, supporters were detained for up to four hours and transported by the police back to Stoke-on-Trent on coaches, missing the game. Deprived of toilet facilities on the coach, the supporters were instructed to urinate into cups, which spilled over the floor of the bus so that they had to sit with urine sloshing around their feet for the 40 mile journey back.

In recent weeks there have been more and more reports of police using section 27 to prevent fans attending football matches with the FSF receiving many first-hand accounts from supporters of clubs across England. The FSF is launching a campaign fund to defend the rights of football fans wrongly served with section 27 orders.

Anna Fairclough, Legal Officer for Liberty said:

“This is a football-loving country and it’s not only wrong, but also seriously counter-productive to treat all fans as hooligans. Liberty is proud to take on this case and intends to use the Human Rights Act to prevent abuses of this kind happening again.”

Malcolm Clarke, chair of the FSF, said:

“This legislation was clearly designed to allow the moving on of individuals or small groups misbehaving under the influence of alcohol. It was not designed to enable police to impose football banning orders at will across entire counties.

“Section 27 gives police instant power to walk all over the civil rights of supporters if they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. No evidence appears to be needed, and no crime needs to have been committed.

“I would encourage any supporter who has been an unjustified victim of Section 27 to get in touch with the FSF and make their voice heard. We are taking this very, very seriously.”

Contact: Mairi Clare Rodgers (Liberty) on 0207 378 3677 or 0797 3 831 128

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. Liberty is a human rights and civil liberties organisation. Liberty campaigns through the media, undertakes pioneering legal casework, lobbies Parliament and provides advice and assistance to members of the public and voluntary groups. Liberty is an independent membership organisation. The Common Values campaign aims to broaden understanding and respect for human rights values. 

2. The Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) is the national supporters’ organisation for all football fans from England and Wales comprising over 142,000 individual fans and members of local supporters’ organisations from every club in the professional structure and many from the pyramid. For more info http://www.fsf.org.uk/about-the-fsf.php

3. Section 27 from the Violent Crime Reduction Act of 2006. No offence needs to have been committed for the legislation to be enforced and it gives police the power to move on people who they deem pose a risk of alcohol-related disorder from a specific locality. Section 27 allows police to move someone from a specified area for a period of up to 48 hours. For further information on Section 27 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 visit: http://police.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/operational-policing/directions-to-leave-locality?view=Binary