Football Banning Orders are frequently imposed on individuals who are convicted of football related offences of violence or disorder that take place at football matches, or in the surrounding area. These orders are a vital part of the police and court’s armoury in their fight against football hooliganism.
A Football Banning Order is a civil order made by the court preventing the offender from attending regulated matches, and will usually include various conditions to be complied with. A Football Banning Order will be in addition to any criminal penalties imposed on conviction of a football related offence. This is because the order is not intended as a form of punishment, but rather, an important additional measure to prevent future disorder and violence at football matches.
There must be a football related offence or incident
Before the court can make a Football Banning Order, it must be satisfied that a football related offence has taken place. This could be a specific football related offence, such as ticket touting; or may be a general offence of violence or disorder which was football related. For detailed information on football related offences, read here.
This means that the court can only issue a Football Banning Order on the defendant if the offence was football related. Given that Football Banning Orders clearly interfere with the rights of individuals to attend football matches, the court is under a duty to ensure that such an order is necessary before making it – and give its reasons.
When the Court MUST make an order
Under the Football Spectators Act 1989, the Court must make a Football Banning Order where:
the offender has been convicted of a relevant offence, and
it is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that making a banning order would help to prevent violence or disorder
If the court decides not to impose a Football Banning Order, it must give its reasons for not doing so. For instance, on the particular facts of a case, the court may decide an order is unnecessary because it considers that the defendant is highly unlikely to be involved in any football related violence or disorder in future.
However, note that where violence was involved, the Court MUST make an order in any event. So, for instance, if you are charged and convicted of a violent football related offence, you can be sure of being handed a Football Banning Order.
The individual does not have to be convicted
If the defendant is charged with a football related offence but is later acquitted – this does not bar the court from making a Football Banning Order. An acquittal is absolutely no guarantee against a banning order.
That said, the court must be satisfied that even though the charges didn’t stick, making a banning order would help to prevent violence or disorder at, or in connection with, any regulated football matches.
If the football related offence/s you are charged with are disposed ‘out of court’ by way of a caution or penalty notice for disorder, the court cannot then impose a Football Banning Order. Usually, a minor offence will be dealt with by way of caution or penalty notice if you have no previous record.
However, if you were to later breach the terms of a conditional caution, you open yourself up to an application for a banning order to be made. You could be brought back to court and charged with the original offence – and the court is likely to then issue a Football Banning Order.
Even if someone has not been charged with an offence, they can be made the subject of a Football Banning Order on an application by the police – if they are satisfied the individual was caused or was involved in football related disorder or violence.
How does the court decide whether to impose an order?
The court must determine whether or not a relevant offence has in fact been committed (if you are convicted, that will be sufficient). The court must also explain how imposing a Football Banning Order will help assist in the preventing future violence or disorder at regulated football matches. It is decides not to impose one, it must explain why not.
If the court makes a Football Banning Order without the necessary investigation and explanation, it will be invalid. It is our vital role in these cases to ensure the correct procedure is carried out by the prosecution and the courts to ensure that if a Football Banning Order is made, due process has been carried out.
The expert Football Banning Orders lawyers at Qamar Solicitors will aggressively any attempts on the part of the prosecution to persuade the court to issue an order.
What should I do?
If you have been accused of a football related offence, or you have been involved in – but not yet charged with – football related violence or disorder, it is vital to take urgent legal advice as soon as possible. The expert football banning orders lawyers at Qamar Solicitors have successfully defended many clients who have been charged with football related offences, and helped numerous clients resist the making of a Football Banning Order.
Contact us for specialist help; and we can tell you if you qualify for legal aid.