The problems that arose at the Everton game worried me. Not just the fact that Arsenal supporters (in the most expensive seats it turns out) took it upon themselves to throw stuff on the away support below, but also what appeared to be the inept response of semi-trained stewards who did nothing but attack the supporters who were underneath the objects being dropped.
I am not suggesting that Everton supporters were blameless that day – there are many reports of fighting beyond the stadium – but there is no doubt that police and steward activities can still revert to a form of behaviour that should not exist within our ground.
I was mulling this over when I got details of Watching football is not a crime! – a programme launched as a direct reaction to recent instances of police officers using Section 27 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 as a way of stopping football supporters, usually in pubs, from attending matches.
It is not the same thing – but it is part of a wider issue – the fact that just as we as supporters have a duty to behave in a reasonable fashion, so our police force and our clubs stewards have the same duty. I mentioned this ages ago when it appeared that supporters going to White Hart Lane were being stopped under the Anti-Terror legislation, but never charged, and no terror threat was ever reported. It is not an acceptable way for policing to be done.
This new campaign brings together supporters and Liberty, the civil rights movement. It aims to
- To stop the use of Section 27 legislation as a strategy for policing football supporters.
- To inform supporters that this is happening with previous examples and steps to take if you are a victim of Section 27 legislation.
- Prosecution/compensation – to establish whether or not use of Section 27 legislation by police on football supporters in this way is lawful, and if not, to take appropriate legal action to compensate as many of the victims of this tactic as possible. Specifically, we will strive to achieve the following compensation for innocent fans: refunds on travel expenses and match tickets, deletion of any records of incidents held on file, and a written apology.
Below is the message from the campaign…
To do this we need your support, solicitors cost money. You can do this securely online or send a cheque payable to the Football Supporters’ Federation, Fans’ Stadium, Kingsmeadow, Jack Goodchild Way, 422A Kingston Road, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 3PB.
The suggested donation is £2.70, the approximate price of a pint, although we obviously welcome larger donations. We’ve set it up in multiples of £5 and £10 on the site, or you can purchase a membership-donation combo for £20. This means you get a year’s individual membership (including six copies per annum of our magazine – The Football Supporter) and feel extra good knowing you’ve contributed a fiver to Watching football is not a crime!
We also ask that everyone who reads this sends the link on to five people. The more people who hear about this, the more evidence we build up of Section 27’s unfair use. All money raised in this campaign will be spent solely on the campaign while it runs. If we are successful in overturning the use of Section 27, any surplus will be used for future legal challenges on behalf of football fans.
FAQs on Section 27:
- What the media won’t tell you about football, part 4 – referee variations
- The final transfer rumours: 3 new names to make 66 players tipped for Arsenal
- What the media won’t tell you about football, part 3 – referee home bias
- The real live facts that the media won’t ever touch (part 2)
- Could this be the best PL season ever for Arsenal in terms of goals?