From next month new sentencing guidelines will come into effect in respect of a range of football related offences. Issued by the Sentencing Council the guidelines set out the factors that the courts must consider when sentencing anyone found guilty of a range of offences. These include being drunk in a ground, throwing missiles, racist and indecent chanting and entering the pitch and prohibited areas. Convictions for offences related to the unauthorised sale of tickets and possession of alcohol are also included.
Sentencing Guidelines – Football Offences
The guidelines direct the courts to consider at the outset which category an offence falls into having regard to issues of culpability and harm. Factors indicating higher culpability include deliberate or flagrant action, disregard of warnings, commercial operation, incitement of others, possession of a large quantity of alcohol and targeted abuse. As far as harm is concerned the relevant factors include distress or alarm caused, actual injury or risk of injury and significant financial loss to others.
Having determined which category an offence falls into the court must then go on to look at factors that increase or reduce seriousness. The person’s previous convictions, other offences committed whilst on bail and offences motivated by hostility based on an individual’s characteristics are all potentially aggravating factors. Mitigating factors include remorse, admissions to the police, lack of previous convictions, age or lack of maturity and issues of disability.
Sentencing Football Related Offences
Before reaching a final decision as to sentence the court must take into account a range of other factors including any potential reduction for a guilty plea and issues of totality in respect of a person’s overall offending behaviour. For most of the offences fall within the guidelines the maximum penalty is a fine. However, for the unauthorised sale of tickets that fine may be unlimited. For offences relating to the possession of alcohol the court do have the power to impose up to three months imprisonment.
Football Banning Orders
In addition to these penalties the court should consider whether to make other orders including orders for compensation, costs and whether or not a Football Banning Order should be made. As far as Football Banning Orders are concerned the courts must impose such an order where a person is convicted of a “relevant offence” and the courts believe that an order would help prevent violence or disorder relating to matches.
These guidelines are effective from the 24th April 2017.
Need Help? Olliers are specialist football offence lawyers (London & Manchester)
If you require any advice or assistance in connection with allegations relating to incidents at football matches please do not hesitate to contact either David Philpott or Laura Baumanis by telephone on 0161 8341515. David and Laura head the Olliers Football team and can provide you with expert guidance.