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FSF “legal observer” courses

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

Would you like to become a trained legal observer? The Football Supporters’ Federation is setting up legal observer training sessions similar to those run by civil rights organisations at large political demonstrations and protests. The FSF hopes to hold these sessions across the country and there will be no cost to FSF members – join here for free.

These sessions will help empower supporters so that they know their own legal rights and the limits of police powers. Legal observers have a long and distinguished history dating back to the 1930s. They were first used in the UK during protests against the British Union of Fascists and also observed anti-Vietnam protests in the 60s. Most recently they were requested by the TUC and Metropolitan police during protests against public spending cuts in March.

Amanda Jacks, caseworker at the FSF, said: “There are huge benefits to having observers at matches, especially away games. Fans are obviously at the game to enjoy themselves, so it’s unreasonable to expect people to take detailed notes. However, legal observers can take officers’ numbers, collect contact details of fans who feel they’ve been ill-treated, and summarise tactics they suspect haven’t been proportionate.

“They can also highlight examples of good policing practice which is very important too. These are all simple but effective tools. The training will cover the role of the police, what they are legally permitted to do, and educate fans to their rights when it comes to stop and search, restriction of movement, and so on. Legal observers exist to provide information and support to fans – they are not there to intervene or criticise the behaviour of fans.”

Training will be delivered in a mixture of role plays, case studies, presentations, and discussions. Should there be enough interest the FSF can hold these sessions across the country. If you are interested the FSF wants to hear from you today.

For more information on the FSF’s policing and stewarding work visit our Fan In Trouble page.

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