The new football season has commenced with much anticipation but with it has come a joint policy from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) for dealing with violence, disorder, damage and abuse at football matches this season.
In recent years there has been a great deal of media attention focused on criminal behaviour, in particular racist abuse, at football matches. Whilst we are no longer experiencing the severe hooliganism associated with football in the 80s and 90s, football clubs and law enforcement agencies are keen to stamp out problems of violence and abuse which have become commonplace at some football matches.
Those attending football matches should be aware that even what some may perceive as popular or harmless chants and insults, could find them in trouble and even banned from attending footballs matches nationally and internationally for years to come. The law protects the public from abuse and threats, with there being additional protection from abuse based on a person’s sex, disability, race, sexual orientation or religion. Therefore anyone using abusive or derogatory language or behaviour, particularly with such negative undertones, could find themselves not only arrested but prosecuted and subjected to a Football Banning Order (FBO).
Nick Hawkins, the lead sports prosecutor for the CPS said that such violent, abusive or dangerous behaviour at football matches will be dealt with, and where there is sufficient evidence, offenders will be charged and face a Football Banning Order.
FBOs are made for a minimum of 3 years and therefore anyone who receives one this season would not only be prevented from attending football matches here, they would be prevented from travelling to the World Cup in Brazil and the Euros in 2016.
In addition the CPS will be reviewing social media for abuse communicated to players and supporters online.
FBOs are something which only a Court can order but anyone facing prosecution for such offences connected with a football matches will be at significant risk of being subjected to such an order. If you are facing such a prosecution and FBO then contact Dale and Dunphy for assistance.