The Magistrates had to consider whether to make a Football Banning Order against a young man (the respondent). The Police had brought a complaint against him. He was not represented. What follows is a mere outline.
The basic power to make a banning order
is in Part II of the Football Spectators Act 1989 (FSA). The original legislation has been extensively amended by subsequent Acts - e.g. Football (Disorder) Act 2000 and the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 s.52/Schedule 3.
When reading the legislation, it is essential to understand the terms used. FSA s.1 and FSA s.14.
These orders can be made:
(a) where a person is convicted of a "relevant offence" - FSA s.14A - A relevant offence is one to which Schedule 1 of the FSA applies
(b) on complaint to the magistrates (usually by the Police) - s.14B.
Section 14A did not apply to the young man this morning.
The application is to be made by complaint to a magistrates’ court. If (a) it is proved on the application that the condition in s.14B(2) is met, and (b) the court is 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, the court must make a banning order in respect of the respondent.
This section applied to the man this morning.
This is set out in FSA s14F - and it depends on whether the banning order is under section 14A or 14B. However, the minimum is 3 years. Two-thirds of the way through the period set by the court, the person may apply to the court for termination of the order.
The person subject to a banning order can be subjected to stringent conditions and the court must explain the conditions to the person using ordinary language. When an order is made, the person must report to a Police Station within 5 days (beginning with the day on which the order is made). At the Police Station, the individual will be photographed. The order requires that certain matters be notified to the "enforcing authority" such as change of name or address etc. The list is in section 14E(2B) and is quite lengthy. A further condition which has to be included relates to surrender of passport when there is a regulated football match outside the UK. It is also possible for the court to impose other conditions in relation to any regulated football matches.
The above is only a very brief outline of this complex legislation. It was not surprising to discover that several decided cases applied including the fact that a challenge had been brought under both European Union Law (freedom of movement) and the European Convention on Human Rights: Gough and another v Chief Constable of Derbyshire  EWCA Civ 351 (on appeal from the Divisional Court). This appeal was decided by an impressive bench: Lord Phillips MR; Judge and Carnwath LJJ. Lord Phillips went on to become Lord Chief Justice and is now President of the Supreme Court. Judge LJ became the present Lord Chief Justice. Carnwath LJ is Senior President of Tribunals and will become a Justice of the Supreme Court in April 2012.
Non-compliance can result in imprisonment - see FSA 14J.
In Gough, it was argued that proceedings under section 14B were criminal. However, this was rejected by the Court of Appeal. Proceedings under section 14B are civil. However, banning orders were to be regarded as being in the same category as antisocial behaviour orders and sex offenders’ orders. While made in civil proceedings they impose serious restraints on freedoms that the citizen normally enjoys. While technically the civil standard of proof applies, that standard is flexible and must reflect the consequences that will follow if the case for a banning order is made out. This should lead the Magistrates to apply an exacting standard of proof that will, in practice, be hard to distinguish from the criminal standard - see B v Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Constabulary  1 WLR 340 at p.354 and R (McCann) v Manchester Crown Court  1 WLR 1084 at p.1102.
The young man seemed to just want to get the whole thing over. He said as little as possible and, when asked, admitted everything! I would be very surprised if he had any inkling of the law involved here. From what I heard, the result appeared to be correct but, whilst legal aid can be applied for, it is not always granted.
I would be interested in comments especially from those with experience of these orders.
An interesting article on this subject is "Football Banning Orders: Analysing their use in court" by Mark James and Geoff Pearson. The article was written in 2006. The changes in the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 took effect on 6th April 2007.
The Guardian 17th June 2010 - "Football banning Orders out of control"
Guidance on Policing Football - 2010 - published on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers by the National Policing Improvement Agency
An Evaluation of Football Banning Orders in Scotland - 2011 - this also looks at experience in England and Wales
See the Court of Appeal judgment in Doyle and Wise v The Queen  EWCA Crim 995