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Bristol City fans to sue police over false imprisonment

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

Bristol City fans have begun legal action against West Midlands Police (WMP) claiming false imprisonment and human rights breaches from an incident in 2015.

Ten Bristol City supporters, with the help of the Bristol City Supporters Club & Trust, served court proceedings against the WMP last week – the force still denies they acted unlawfully.

The Robins’ fans were surrounded by WMP officers outside a pub before their away fixture at Birmingham City back in September 2015.

They claim they were threatened with force including the use of police dogs, publicly accused of being hooligans by an inspector using a megaphone, detained for over 90 minutes and put back on a train home without being allowed to attend the game they had come to watch.

Eight of the ten supporters were issued with dispersal notices under Section 35 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Disorder Act 2014 – all ten are now claiming these powers were used unlawfully and breached Article Five of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Chair of Bristol City Supporters Club & Trust Stu Rogers said: “We believe that supporting these ten fans is fundamentally the role of a pro-active supporters group acting in the best interests of supporters.

“West Midlands Police appear to have frustrated the process throughout in the hope we would just go away. We won’t.

“The primary purpose of bringing this action is to ensure that future use of these dispersal powers is not abused by West Midlands Police or any other forces around the country. We also aim to secure compensation for those affected.”

Section 35 Dispersal Powers compel an individual to leave a defined area, but the supporters say this does not give police the right to detain them and escort them to a train station.

The Birmingham incident is not the first time supporters have challenged these types of police powers. Legal precedent was set last year two Wrexham fans successfully challenged police orders preventing them attending their away fixture at Grimsby Town and forcing them to return to Wrexham. The pair were given compensation in the process.

FSF caseworker Amanda Jacks said: “I applaud the tenacity of the supporters involved in the case and much credit is due to the Bristol City Supporters Club and Trust for their ongoing support.”

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