| Your rights!
A short guide to the law for football fans
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Going to football? Know your rights!!
The laws relating to football and public order are very loosely worded and open to interpretation. This guide is intended to help football fans get an understanding of the basic laws and their rights.
Under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act it is a criminal offence for you to resell a spare ticket - even if it is for cost price or less - or even free!
Stop and Search.
The police have the right to stop and search you outside the ground if they have 'reasonable suspicion' that you have committed a criminal offence, or if a senior officer believes that there is a likely incident of serious violence in the area'.
You can also be searched as you enter the ground and have personal items confiscated.
These include banners with poles, flares, bottles, cameras etc. You may experience great difficulty in getting your possessions back after the game. You are advised to get written permission from the club before attempting to bring in large flags, musical instruments etc.
Where you can be searched
The police can search you in any place that is generally open to the public. This means they can search you anywhere other than your home and your garden, or the home or garden of someone who has given you permission to be there.
Section 27 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 is designed to prevent potential 'alcohol-related disorder' and gives the police powers to move individuals on from a specified area for up 48 hours. The police serving the order need to have good reason and evidence to support their assertion that you are likely to cause alcohol-related crime or disorder (just being in a pub is not just cause).
If you're are told to move on from the locality, the police can specify the means and route, although the law fails to define 'locality,' so they could force you to travel a considerable distance.
Note: The police have no powers to make you sign anything. If you feel you've been unfairly dealt with under S27, get the details of the officer concerned and - ideally - get it all on camera, along with the names of any witnesses.
If you want to argue the toss, ask to speak to a senior officer and put your case forward peacefully while complying with the order (i.e. walking away). If you stand your ground you're likely to be arrested and/or fined by the courts.
More info and campaign details: Section 27 factsheets
Section 60 of the Criminal Justice Act could also potentially be used against football fans. This piece of legislation allows police to corral large numbers of people into a confined area and conduct basic searches as well as taking names, addresses and photographs.
If you're being held under Section 60, officers can search you for 'offensive weapons or dangerous instruments' and ask you to remove outer clothing, such as coats and jumpers in public. In addition, s60(4A) allows the police to force you to remove anything they reasonably suspect you are wearing wholly or mainly to conceal your identity.
Section 60 was used against anti-globalisation protesters in London, May 2001 and it's likely that football fans may find themselves being held under this law.
[Section 60: more info]
You are not allowed to bring alcohol in to a football match and it is also an offence to he drunk or under the influence of drugs inside the ground. Chanting: it is an offence to join in with racial and abusive chanting.
You may also find yourself in trouble for standing up and joining in with chanting 'likely to cause alarm and distress'.
Most clubs employ stewards for crowd control. They have the rights of citizens arrest' (i.e. if you have committed a criminal offence they can arrest you and hand you over to the police) but in reality the police will invariably back up their actions, right or wrong.
Police powers of arrest
The cops can arrest you if they have a valid arrest warrant, or:
* you are in the act of committing certain offences
* they have reasonable grounds for suspecting you are committing certain offences
* they have reasonable grounds for suspecting you have committed certain offences
* you are about to commit certain offences
* they have reasonable grounds for suspecting you are about to commit certain offences.
They can also arrest you if they have reasonable grounds for suspecting you have committed or attempted to commit any offence, or if you are committing or attempting to commit any offence, but it is impractical or inappropriate to serve a summons.
However, the police can only do this if one of the following conditions applies:-
* they do not know, and cannot get your name
* they think you have given a false name
* you have not given a satisfactory address. This means an address where the police can contact you
* they think you have given a false address
* the arrest is necessary to prevent you causing physical injury to yourself or others, suffering physical injury, causing loss or damage to property, committing an offence against public decency, or causing an unlawful obstruction of the highway
* they have reasonable grounds for believing that arrest is necessary to protect a child or other vulnerable person.
If they are arresting you because you have failed to give them a satisfactory address they must first explain that you may be arrested and give you to opportunity to give them the address.
See Your rights on arrest - legal help and useful information
If you are arrested
Stay calm. Do not offer any physical resistance to the arrest.
Ensure that a friend or colleague knows that you have been arrested. Take a note of the number of the officer arresting you and any other officers involved.
Try to remember exactly what you were doing at the lime of the arrest. Write this down as soon as you can. Get the name of any witnesses, or ask someone to do this for you.
[More info: Your rights on arrest]
In Police Custody
You have the right to a solicitor and to have someone informed that you have been arrested.
There is a Duty Solicitor available who can be contacted at the Police Station and this service is free. We advise you to answer 'No comment' to all questions and not to make any statement either written or verbal until you have seen a solicitor.
You are obliged, however, to give your name and address.
Once you are charged you should be released (the police will usually try to verity your identity first)- It not, you should discuss bail with your solicitor. The police can fingerprint & photograph you if you are charged.
If the police assault you go to hospital immediately and get your injuries recorded.
Legal guff: Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, we cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions.
Football Bustcard - your rights on arrest
your rights on arrest
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