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Watching football is not a crime!

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

The Football Supporters’ Federation is delighted to announce we have teamed up with the civil rights organisation Liberty to fight for the rights of football fans who have been unjustly detained under Section 27 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act.

Our Watching football is not a crime! campaign will raise funds for supporters who have been unfairly targeted by this legislation, and allow us to take the case to judicial review with Liberty. We are hearing from more and more fans who have unfairly served with Section 27 orders – it could be you next.

In recent weeks we have written of the cases of Stoke City and Plymouth Argyle supporters who have been served with Section 27 orders, made to miss their team’s game, and taken back home under threat of arrest with no compensation for match tickets or travel.

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.”

In both cases police the cited ‘intelligence’ despite landlords from the pubs these supporters were in saying there had been no trouble, and very little in the way of singing, never mind violence.

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.”

Watching football is not a crime! campaign aims:

  • To stop the use of Section 27 legislation as a strategy for policing football supporters.
  • To inform supporters that this is happening with previous examples and steps to take if you are a victim of Section 27 legislation.
  • Prosecution/compensation – to establish whether or not use of Section 27 legislation by police on football supporters in this way is lawful, and if not, to take appropriate legal action to compensate as many of the victims of this tactic as possible. Specifically, we will strive to achieve the following compensation for innocent fans: refunds on travel expenses and match tickets, deletion of any records of incidents held on file, and a written apology.

Read more about Watching football is not a crime!

Donate the price of a pint to Watching football is not a crime!

Get your Section 27 fact sheet – you might need it.

Have you been unjustly served with a Section 27? Download the FSF’s questionnaire and email it to section27@fsf.org.uk.

The latest copy of our magazine tfs is now in our shop, available to order (members receive free). tfs #14 looks at Section 27, the policing of football fans and much more.

FAQs on Section 27:

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Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund

Partners

  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • SD Europe