A Football Banning Order is a civil order, often imposed following a conviction for a football related offence. They are designed to prevent hooliganism in football, and act as a deterrent for avid football fans against becoming involved in any acts of disorder. Where violence is involved an Order ‘must’ always be made, and for lesser offences, an Order must be made if the Court is satisfied that it would assist in preventing future acts of football related violence or disorder.
Football Banning Orders cannot be made by the police when out of Court disposals are used to resolve a case. For this reason, many cases which, in any other context would be eligible for a caution, end up before the Courts.
Football Banning Orders can also be applied for even if a person is not convicted of any criminal offence. An acquittal after trial, for example, therefore, does not guarantee that an application for an Order will not still be made, and granted.
What is a ‘football related’ offence?
Football Banning Orders can only be applied for where an offence is ‘football related’. This is not to say that the act has to take place within a football ground or amongst spectators watching a match elsewhere. Offences can often take place on public transport or at locations some distance away from a football ground. It is, however, necessary for the Crown to demonstrate that the behaviour was, in some way, football related, and for this they can rely upon tickets, fanzines, programmes, football paraphernalia and the wearing of football strips, to name but a few. An offence can also take place within 24 hours either side of a match and still be deemed as ‘football related’.
What conditions can be imposed by a Football Banning Order?
The terms of a Football Banning Orders are applied for on a case by case basis, taking into consideration the circumstances of the offence and the context in which it was committed.
It is the norm, however, for there to be a condition precluding a person from attending football matches either at home or abroad for the duration of the Order. Further conditions include:
In addition to barring a person from football matches themselves, a Football Banning Order can preclude a person from going to specific areas, such as public houses, or within specified distances of a match, for a period of from two hours before to two hours after any match. They can also forbid someone to travel on public transport unless approved beforehand by the British Transport Police.
Even if an offence was not committed within the context of an international match, the Courts can order that a person surrenders his or her passport to their local police station during a ‘control period’, ie from five days before any international tournament until its conclusion. Clearly this is a massive restriction on a persons liberty as it impacts upon non-football related travel, including business and holidays.
Furthermore, it is the norm for anyone made the subject of a Football Banning Order to sign on at their local police station within five days of the Order being made. A condition can also be imposed for a person to report to their local police station during control periods.
How long will a Football Banning Order last?
A Football Banning Order can last anywhere between two and ten years, and the duration of the Order is largely dependant upon the conduct alleged, whether a conviction was forthcoming and, if so, the sentence passed.
If the Crown seeks a Banning Order where there is no conviction, providing that the Court is satisfied that the appropriate criteria is met, an Order of between two and three years can be imposed.
Where there is no period of immediate imprisonment an Order for a period of three to five years can be imposed, and where an immediate custodial sentence is given, an Order must last for a minimum of six years to a maximum of ten years.
Is it possible to apply to terminate a Football Banning Order early?
It is possible to make an application to the court to terminate a Football Banning Order early. Section 14H of the Football Spectators Act 1989 allows such application to be made after two thirds of the order has had effect. The court will consider various factors in deciding whether to grant such application or not including the person’s character, his conduct since the banning order was made, the nature of the offence or conduct which led to it and any other circumstances which appear to the court to be relevant. If you are considering making such application please contact Laura Baumanis for further advise.