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football fans and the law   About the Criminal Justice Act campaign
  Football Fans vs Criminal Justice Act press release

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Reproduced below is the original press release originally sent out to the media in 1994 (since updated):

The Criminal Justice Act directly affects your rights as a football fan. The FFACJA was a campaign set up to warn and inform fans about the implications of the Act and had the full backing of the Football Supporters Association, Liberty, the National Council for Civil Liberties and Charter 88.

All football fans know what it's like to be harassed and treated like a criminal just because you're going to a match.

Section 60 of the Act gives police powers to stop and search, without any reason, any vehicle or person, even if you're nowhere near the ground!

Fans are already searched as they enter grounds, and in the 1994/5 season, out of the 23 million people who attended games, just 30 were found with offensive weapons!


These additional powers are unnecessary, and may create tension, ill-feeling and possible confrontation between fans and the police.

Football-related arrests continue to decline, with figures for the 97-98 season showing an all time low for England and Wales (total arrests: 3,307).

Sections 68-71 create a new offence of "aggravated trespass". This means that peaceful demonstrations such as those seen at Man City, QPR, Spurs, West Ham etc are now criminal acts, and the police have the right to arrest everyone taking part.

In fact, you could be arrested even if you're nowhere near the ground - all the police need is "reasonable suspicion" that you intend to go! Often protests are the only means left for loyal fans to voice their passionate concern about what's happening at their club. Removing this right of peaceful protest will deprive law-abiding fans of their say in the running of their club - and it is you, the fans, who pay the wages!


Fans are often hauled out of grounds for no apparent reason. The Act abolishes the right of silence, increasing the chances of miscarriages of justice. If you are arrested, the police are empowered to FORCIBLY pluck hair or take a mouth swab.

This information will stay on a national DNA database, even if you're subsequently not charged. This is worrying as there are already recorded cases of innocent fans finding themselves on a "hooligan blacklist".

The Act makes it a criminal offence to sell on a match ticket, even if it's at cost price! The law's supposed to be aimed at ticket touts, but we've already heard evidence of ordinary fans being threatened with arrest for trying to sell on single spare tickets, or having their tickets confiscated!

If you've got a spare ticket, the club cannot buy it back, you can't sell it to anyone else so you lose your money!

Needless to say, this only applies to football and not to rugby, tennis, theatre, ballet, opera, horse-racing, classical music concerts, etc., etc.


Section 154 of the Act introduces a new crime of "intentional harassment, alarm or distress". This means that if you verbally or visibly "insult or abuse" (i.e. shout or gesture) within sight or hearing of a person LIKELY to be caused "alarm or distress" (?) you will commit an offence punishable by up to six months in prison. This is worryingly vague.

Football fans by their nature can be rowdy, and often enjoy taunting and teasing the opposition, and this law gives the police fresh powers for indiscriminate arrest.

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