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Public Order and the Rebalancing of Football Fans' Rights: Legal Problems With Pre-Emptive Policing Strategies and Banning Orders

James, M and Pearson, G (2015) Public Order and the Rebalancing of Football Fans' Rights: Legal Problems With Pre-Emptive Policing Strategies and Banning Orders. Public Law, 3. pp. 458-475. ISSN 0033-3565

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Abstract

The policing of football supporters in the UK is resource-intensive and expensive, with football crowds seen by many forces as inherently prone to misbehaviour, disorder and violence. As a result they are regularly subjected to high-profile, heavy-handed and intrusive policing strategies that are often designed with the imposition of a civil “banning order” on supposed “risk supporters” in mind. This article analyses underlying assumptions about the nature and risk of football crowds and, drawing comparisons with the ways in which political protests are policed and applying jurisprudence from a series of high-profile protest cases, questions the legality of dominant policing approaches to football crowds under both English public law principles and the European Convention on Human Rights. It concludes by proposing how strategies could be developed in a way that both protects the public and the rights of supporters who may on occasion associate with those suspected of engaging in football-related disorder.

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