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Extra-time for football banning orders and tougher penalties to tackle hooliganism
The Government is set to remove existing time limitations on key football banning order laws and will introduce tougher penalties to tackle football disorder.
Banning orders prevent known troublemakers from attending domestic matches and travelling to overseas matches like tonight's England Euro 2008 qualifying match in Spain. Sections of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 which come into force on 6 April 2007 will enshrine on the statute book two banning order measures which were due to expire on 27 August 2007:
* The police power to require known troublemakers to surrender their passports five days prior to an overseas match or tournament; and
* The ability of the police to make the case for a banning order based on complaint (for example, using overseas police footage of misbehaviour as evidence), rather than just based on conviction of a football-related offence.
The Violent Crime Reduction Act will also increase from three years to five the maximum period of a banning order made following a complaint from the police.
Powers to apply for banning orders will be extended for the first time to the Crown Prosecution Service and the British Transport Police. These powers have previously been limited to local chief police officers.
Ticket touting laws will also be extended next week to cover the sale of unauthorised football match tickets on the internet, leading to a maximum fine of £5,000. It will also become illegal to advertise the unauthorised sale of match tickets.
Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said:
"Banning orders have transformed the behaviour of unruly football supporters. Arrests at home and abroad continue to fall and these new measures will help build on that progress.
"Over the weekend, 4,500 England fans travelled to Israel without any incidents or arrests. There is no complacency but the behaviour and reputation of the fans has improved dramatically over recent years.
"In light of recent football problems in Italy and elsewhere, the Home Office and police are working closely with their counterparts around Europe and with UEFA. Our banning order strategy is based on partnerships with supporter groups and the police. This model is now being replicated around the globe."
Arrests for violent disorder in connection with domestic and international football matches have fallen by 32 per cent in each of the last two seasons and this downward trend of violence is continuing this season.
Since banning order legislation was introduced in 2000, less than 4 per cent of the individuals whose banning orders expired have been assessed by the police as continuing to pose a risk at football matches.
ACPO lead on football-related issues and Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Stephen Thomas, said:
"These measures will strengthen the current legislation to ensure that those people who present a risk to others' safety and enjoyment are banned from attending games. Our message has always been clear - if you behave badly you will be banned. To date there are now some 3,290 people subject to banning orders. These orders have resulted in a reduction of disorder and consequently lead to an improvement in the reputation of football fans in this country.
"Increasing the maximum period for a banning order by complaint to five years and giving the Crown Prosecution Service the ability to apply for banning orders should further help deter those intent on causing trouble. The police have a simple strategy of encouraging and supporting the overwhelming majority of genuine fans and to exclude those who simply seek to cause trouble."
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. Section 52 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 contains refinements to existing banning order legislation. Section 53 strengthens legislation on ticket touting.
2. The Violent Crime Reduction Act received Royal Assent on 8 November 2006 and its measures have been introduced on a staggered basis. The Act can be viewed online at: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2006/ukpga_20060038_en.pdf
3. Banning orders were introduced by the Football (Disorder) Act 2000 following the disorder in Belgium during Euro 2000. Banning order legislation applies to England and Wales only.
4. There are currently 3,290 known troublemakers subject to banning orders.
5. Further information on banning orders is available on the Home Office website, including statistics for the past five seasons: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crime-victims/reducing-crime/football-disorder/?version=2