Advanced Search

The National Police Chiefs' Council
Crown Prosecution Service

Prosecution Policy for Football Offences

Professional and semi-professional football provides an opportunity for people from all walks of society and from all parts of England and Wales to follow their sport, to travel around the country and to meet and mix with other football fans. Many fans also follow their national team abroad as well as following those clubs that compete in European competitions.

The overwhelming majority of football fans are well-behaved and want nothing more than to attend games free from the fear of violence, disorder, discrimination and other crime. In recent years there has been an increase in families and diverse communities attending games together, encouraged by the friendlier atmosphere at grounds. Members of the community whose homes and businesses are close to football grounds have the right not to have their lives disrupted by football hooliganism. Those who work in and around football grounds providing a service to fans, and those who provide the transport services that allow them to travel also have the right to carry out their work without fear of violence, discrimination or intimidation.

Our legislation concerning football matches and disorder associated with them is widely recognised by other jurisdictions as the most effective in this field. The success of the legislation, and in particular the use of Football Banning Orders has excluded offenders from the vicinity of football matches, has deterred others from becoming involved in violence and disorder and has enabled levels of policing at matches to be reduced. This has been achieved by a combination of self-policing by fans, high quality police investigations producing compelling evidence, and robust prosecutions where appropriate.

The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will continue to operate a robust prosecution policy for football related offences during 2016/17 and beyond. This means that there will be a presumption of prosecution whenever there is sufficient evidence to bring offenders before a court on appropriate criminal charges and where a Football Banning Order (FBO) is considered necessary. As well as tackling violence, disorder and criminal damage we will deal robustly with offences of racist and homophobic and discriminatory chanting and abuse and other types of hate crime. We recognise, as do the overwhelming majority of decent fans, that there is a place for humour in football but where the line between humour and offensive behaviour is crossed then positive action will be taken. We will also take firm action against those guilty of ticket touting which will include an application for a FBO. We will deal with emerging challenges such as the use of pyrotechnics and pitch incursions involving assaults on players or football officials.

Anyone receiving a FBO this season will not be able to travel to support England or Wales if they qualify for the World Cup finals in Russia in June and July 2018. Their FBO will also require them to surrender their passports and may prevent them travelling anywhere abroad during the tournament. It will also prevent them travelling to any football matches (qualifying or 'friendly' fixtures) and following their club abroad to European games. As a FBO has a minimum duration of 3 years a ban imposed in 2016/17 may also prevent them travelling to the Euros in 2020 due to be held across Europe.

The NPCC and the CPS work closely with the Home Office and other government departments in a continuing effort to combat violence and disorder around football matches at home and abroad. They also work closely with colleagues in Scotland and Northern Ireland to provide consistency across all three jurisdictions in the United Kingdom. The Football Association and Professional Footballers' Association work with the NPCC and the CPS and have been consulted over and support this policy. NPCC and the CPS also work with KickItOut and Stonewall to jointly tackle hate crime in football.

The NPCC and the CPS wish to reassure decent football fans that their right to follow their teams in safety will be protected by this policy. The NPCC and the CPS also wish to reassure members of the public who live and work close to football grounds that their right to carry on their lives and businesses free from football related crime will be protected by this policy.

Gregor McGill
Director of Legal Services, CPS

ACC Mark Roberts
National Police Chiefs' Council

Dated: 26 September 2016