Page last updated at 01:32 GMT, Sunday, 25 May 2008 02:32 UK

Action call on football hooligans

Rangers fans face riot police at Manchester's Piccadilly Gardens
Riot police were involved in clashes with fans at the Uefa Cup final

Efforts are under way to close a legal loophole which means hooligans involved in the Uefa Cup final violence can still attend matches in Scotland.

Police made 42 arrests in Manchester as riot police and supporters fought running battles.

Football Banning Orders in Scotland prevent people attending matches throughout the UK, while those imposed in England do not apply in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has contacted Westminster seeking action.

Measures in the Football Spectators and Sports Grounds Bill, which has been laid at Westminster, could deal with the issue.

I want to see this done [closing of the loophole] as soon as is possible
Kenny MacAskill
Justice Secretary

But Scottish ministers have said they are concerned at the bill's rate of progress.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has now written to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

He said: "Together with the police on both sides of the border we must protect the well-behaved and true football supporters whose good name has been tarnished in recent weeks by the mindless actions of the minority in Manchester following the Uefa Cup final.

"It is extremely regrettable that this minority of supporters marred what was otherwise a friendly, carnival atmosphere."

He demanded a strong message be sent to the "thugs and hooligans" that their behaviour would not be tolerated and would be punished.

Wreaking havoc

He added: "That is why I have written to the home secretary to ask her to confirm when the legislation to close this loophole on Football Banning Orders will be finally enacted.

"I want to see this done as soon as is possible so that if necessary in the future people causing problems at football matches south of the border can be prevented from attending matches and wreaking havoc in Scotland."

A total of 20 FBOs have been imposed in Scotland since September 2006, when the legislation that established them came into force.

The Scottish Government is currently liaising with the courts, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland to monitor their implementation.

Labour's Russell Brown, MP for Dumfries and Galloway, said he had twice previously brought forward a bill at Westminster to address the loophole, but saw them blocked by Tory backbencher Christopher Cope - with no "visible support" from SNP MPs.


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