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Boro fans launch crowd funder

Forty-four Middlesbrough FC supporters unhappy with their treatment by Derbyshire Police are taking the force to court. They have launched a crowdfunded campaign to support their case and the FSA has made a donation. You can do the same here. Below, they tell us who they are and why this case should matter to all fans…

Who are we? Forty-four Middlesbrough supporters who were detained for more than six hours and given dispersal notices by Derbyshire Police. Our crime? We don’t know and the police don’t have to tell us anything. Football fans are being treated like criminals for just trying to support their team, so we’re going to court to seek justice for the misuse of dispersal powers.

Case background

On 17th March 2015, officers from various police forces were involved in issuing a group of approximately 50 football supporters with dispersal notices pursuant to Section 34 and Section 35 Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (“the 2014 Act”).

Supporters had travelled to an away game and were detained on arrival for more than six hours. During this time we were not able to use a toilet or have anything to drink. Some of the fans were told by police officers to urinate in the street next to a church. It was humiliating and degrading for those concerned.

We were eventually led through the streets of Derby to the train station before officers travelled with us on a train to Nottingham for further detention until transport arrived. We were then surrounded by marked police vehicles with their lights flashing, sirens on and followed down the M1.

Why? No one knows…

We were given no explanation and the police are hiding behind ‘Public Interest Immunity’. The police do not have to justify their actions so can continue to abuse dispersal powers in this manner.

Dispersal powers should ONLY be used to disperse INDIVIDUALS for a period of time which may be necessary for the purpose of removing or reducing the likelihood of either (a) members of the public in the locality being harassed, alarmed, or distressed; or (b) the occurrence in the locality of crime or disorder.

When deciding to make such an authorisation police officers must have particular regard to the rights and freedoms of expression and assembly in articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights. In many cases there are no individual assessments and the police are able to cherry pick groups of fans and disperse them without having to offer an explanation.

Fans had taken time off work, bought tickets and were simply looking forward to watching a football match. Instead, we were deprived of our liberty and escorted out of the city like criminals. One of the fans described it as the most humiliating experience in his 40 years of supporting football.

We are asking for football fans across the UK to get behind us. We have issued a claim for false imprisonment and breach of our Human Rights under Article 5, 8 and 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. However, the police can afford to fight this case as their legal fees are funded by you, the tax payer – they know that the fans can’t afford the legal fees and that this may force the withdrawal of the case – where is the JUSTICE in that?

Why are we raising money?

Our legal team is working on a NO WIN, NO FEE basis but going up against the police means if we lose we could be forced to pay their costs. The introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act in 2013 means that if we lose our case we could be looking at paying a hefty legal bill. The police know this is our situation and are depending upon us dropping the case. Please help us over come this barrier to justice. We, the people, can come together to crowdfund and force the police to be accountable for their misuse of dispersal powers.

Ten Bristol City fans brought a similar case against West Midlands Police and the fans had to rely on generous donations to cover their legal fees. It was a long and difficult legal battle which eventually settled out of court earlier this year.

Bristol City Supporters Club & Trust Chairman, Stu Rogers, said: “Whilst we will not have our day in court to seek a ruling, we believe this is a moral victory and sends a clear message to police forces up and down the country. Do not misuse these dispersal powers. Fans simply will not stand for it.”

By Middlesbrough Football Fans.

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Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund

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