Another successful defence of a football-related offence
The law relating to Football Banning Orders changed in 2022. The test for making an order used to be that an order should be made when somebody is convicted of a football related offence if “satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that making a banning order would help to prevent violence or disorder at, or in connection with, any regulated football matches”.
That has changed so that now a court must make an order unless there are exceptional reasons for not doing so.
FBOs are very draconian. Most people are aware that if they get one, they are banned from going to watch their team. However, standard FBOs last for three years and they ban people from watching any league football matches. People are banned from travelling to the towns where their team are playing. Also, people have to surrender their passports whenever England are playing abroad.
It is important to bear in mind that an FBO can be imposed without anything violent having happened. There is a long list of charges when an FBO can be sought.
It is always important that anybody interviewed by the police gets legal advice. Legal advice at the police station is completely free of charge for everyone.
In our latest case, our client was interviewed as to inappropriate chanting at his local football ground. In interview he described his behaviour as indefensible. He was charged with disorderly behaviour.
Despite this, our football law and pub quiz expert, Jim Buckley, defended him and secured an acquittal.
To be guilty of an offence of disorderly conduct it must be proved that the words used were within the hearing of a person likely to be harassed, alarmed or distressed.
Because the only witness was a steward with 23 years’ experience, it was demonstrated that he was personally not affected by the chanting at all. The Court refused an argument that they could infer that other people there would have been affected. As such our client was acquitted and can return to watching his favourite team.
The moral of the story is – be careful what you chant at the football, never be interviewed without legal advice, but even if you are, you may still win your case if you get the right solicitor.