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"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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Wednesday, 5 July, 2000, 03:36 GMT 04:36 UK
Hooligan ban plans set out
Fan arrested by police
Hundreds of England fans were arrested at Euro 2000
Home Secretary Jack Straw is to address police chiefs after unveiling radical plans to stamp out football hooliganism.

The package of measures, aimed at preventing a repetition of the trouble at Euro 2000 last month, would give police the power to stop anyone leaving the country if it was suspected they wanted to cause trouble.

Fans and police clash
Police in riot gear quelled trouble at Euro 2000
Ministers hope to rush through the legislation before Parliament breaks for its summer recess on 28 July, but concerns over civil liberties could delay the measures becoming law.

The move followed criticism that the Government did not do enough to prevent trouble during the European championships.

Hundreds of England fans ran riot in Belgium, prompting European football's governing body Uefa to threaten to expel the national side from the tournament.

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

Backing of police chiefs

The package of measures was welcomed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), whose summer conference was due to be addressed by Mr Straw on Wednesday.

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

Jack Straw
Jack Straw: determined to stamp out "the obnoxious taint of football hooliganism"
"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.

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

"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.

Civil liberties

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 proposals to ban people from travelling risk undermining the presumption of innocence

Liberty Director John Wadham
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.

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".

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See also:

04 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Soccer thugs face travel ban
22 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Hague offers help on hooligans
19 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Labour 'inaction' blamed for violence
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