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The BBC's Carole Walker
"Hooliganism has tainted the national game"
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The BBC's Neil Bennett
"They are by no means the complete answer"
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Home Secretary, Jack Straw
"These measures will I believe be successful"
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Tuesday, 4 July, 2000, 21:18 GMT 22:18 UK
Soccer thugs face travel ban

Hundreds of England fans were arrested at Euro 2000
England football hooligans will be banned from travelling abroad under a new government crackdown on trouble-makers.

But concerns over civil liberties are threatening to delay hopes the measures will be rushed into law.

Ministers want to hand the police extra powers to stop potential hooligans travelling abroad, in an effort to prevent a repeat of the violence which marred the Euro 2000 championships.

Home Secretary Jack Straw said the blunt truth was that hooliganism was no longer confined to a minority of known offenders.

But opposition politicians in both Houses of Parliament and civil rights campaigners have warned the proposals may infringe human rights.

This must be considered just the start of a huge drive to stop these people disgracing not just the game of football but the whole nation

Adam Crozier
FA Chief Executive
Shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe said the Tories would, in principle, support the government in getting the bill through on an accelerated timetable.

But she stressed her party would not allow legislation with such "serious implications for civil liberties" to pass through parliament without due scrutiny.

The proposed legislation involves:

  • Combining domestic and international banning orders. Currently, 400 domestic bans are in place, but only 106 international. In future, said Mr Straw, a ban would apply both at home and abroad.

  • Everyone liable to a banning order must surrender their passport. Courts currently have discretion over this.

  • A civil process similar to anti-social behaviour orders. Police could propose a banning order to courts even if the person had not been convicted of any offence.

  • New power for police to prevent someone leaving the country, where they believe the person is out to make trouble. The person would be summonsed to a magistrates' court.

    Police chiefs and the Football Association backed the new crackdown.

    Tim Hollis, spokesman on football hooliganism for the association of chief police officers, and the assistant chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, said the new measures were necessary.

    'Fundamental shift'

    "As those who are bent on disrupting major international tournaments become more sophisticated in their approach, we too must ensure we have adequate provisions to deal with them," he said.

    John Abbott, director of the National Criminal Intelligence Service, said hooliganism at Euro 2000 had made it clear tough, new, measures were required.

    "We are particularly glad to see the intention to issue a new, single banning order to all those convicted of football-related offences and to take their passports away at the time of relevant matches," he said.

    Football Association chief executive Adam Crozier said the FA had been pushing for the legislation for two years.

    police in riot gear
    Police in riot gear quelled trouble at Euro 2000
    "This must be considered just the start of a huge drive to stop these people disgracing not just the game of football but the whole nation," he said.

    But the proposal met with criticism in the Lords, who have the power to delay the legislation by sending it back to the Commons for amendment.

    Tory ex-cabinet minister Lord Carlisle of Bucklow saw the proposed confiscation of passports on the say-so of a police officer as "a fundamental shift of power in this country, and one which will need the greatest scrutiny by this House".

    Civil rights group Liberty also objected.

    Director John Wadham said: "The proposals to ban people from travelling risk undermining the presumption of innocence, if they are based on non-conviction information."

    He warned of the risk that the wrong people would be targeted, adding: "Under these proposals some people may be banned from travelling anywhere abroad at all for long periods."

    'Remove violence threat'

    However, Mr Straw said the measures demonstrated the government's "determination to use all the means at our disposal to get rid once and for all of the obnoxious taint of football hooliganism".

    At Euro 2000, most known hooligans either did not travel or were barred from matches.

    He said there was a "yawning chasm" between the average football fan who attended games at home and the so-called England fan who travelled abroad.

    "They are not remotely representative of the majority of England fans at home and we have a big problem in tackling them," he said.

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    22 Jun 00 | UK Politics
    Hague offers help on hooligans
    19 Jun 00 | UK Politics
    Labour 'inaction' blamed for violence
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