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rMeasures against hooliganism intensified

rMeasures against hooliganism intensified

The Act providing measures to curb football hooliganism and serious nuisance did not fulfil initial expectations: modifications are underway.

The Act providing measures to curb football hooliganism and serious nuisance (or: Football Act) was implemented on 1 September 2010. In short, this Act provided mayors with instruments to combat both football hooliganism as well as other forms of serious nuisance. Under this act mayors can impose a banning order (prohibiting a person from attending a range of regulated football matches or from being in a certain area – usually the stadium) and/or a duty for individuals to report to the police. Additionally, there is the option of a group prohibition and to impose a curfew for children under 12 years who create nuisance. These measures can be imposed for the duration of three months and can be extended up to three times.

The early evaluation of the Act shows that it is especially useful regarding neighbourhood nuisance and particular events (such as New Year’s Eve). However, with regard to combating football hooliganism the Act has not fulfilled expectations. The evaluation has identified a number of issues: First, the maximum duration for a banning order (e.g. stadium) of three months is too short. The limited number of home games during that period is a reason for some mayors not to apply this measure. Secondly, the repeat offence requirement is problematic in the case of first offenders. Finally, difficulties have been identified regarding the administrative handling, for instance the compilation of a proper file which is needed in order to impose measures.

Reacting to the evaluation, the Minister of Security and Justice proposed to amend the Act on the following points. First, in the case of a well-founded fear of a repeated violation of public policy the mayor can impose an banning order or reporting requirement for a duration longer than three months. During that period the measure could be imposed on game days only. For instance 45 times 2 days would mean the person is banned for the entire season. Secondly, the criminal court can impose a banning order, restraining order or a reporting duty for a maximum of five years. Thirdly, when one of these imposed measures is transgressed, the offender can no longer only be arrested when caught in the act.

The extension of the duration of the measures is based on the British system which still stands as the prime example in Europe. The recent evaluation of the Swiss concordat (legislation treaty between the Swiss cantons) establishing measures against violence during protests and sports events lead to similar modifications after it had also fallen short of expectations. In the evaluation report it is noted that although the British police force and the Football Association recognize that other factors played a significant role, the banning orders are deemed decisive in reducing football hooliganism. The modification of the Act will be accompanied by increased efforts from the police and the football clubs. As intensive police effort in gathering information is considered essential for the imposition and enforcement of banning orders in Britain, it is to be expected that the success of the modified Act will depend largely on these practical instruments.

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