CPS toughens stance on football related misconduct


9 August 2023

By Sabina Theobald

Recent updates in the guidance provided by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) signal a more stringent approach to addressing offences associated with football. As of 7 August 2023, revised directives have been issued to CPS lawyers, empowering them to pursue legal action against individuals involved in tragedy-related abuse tied to football. These actions can now lead to charges under public order laws. Notably, the revised guidelines also outline procedures for seeking Football Banning Orders, which have the capacity to prohibit fans from attending matches, along with imposing curfews and travel limitations.

All transgressions that bear a connection to football will fall within existing legislation, including the Public Order Act of 1986 and the Offences against the Person Act of 1861.

Potential legal consequences

Out-of-court disposal

Resolving football linked infractions through informal means like a simple caution or a Penalty Notice is likely to be infrequent. Consequently, the main legal responses include:

Conditional cautions: These might be applicable when the offence lacks elements of hate-based motivation. A conditional caution mandates that the offender adhere to specific conditions.

Football banning orders upon conviction: Football Banning Orders (FBOs) have been established as a deterrent mechanism for offenders. To secure the implementation of such an order, the offender must first be found guilty of a relevant offence. Prosecutors are authorised to seek such an order when it’s apparent that an individual has at any time caused or contributed to any ‘violence or disorder’.

The term violence or disorder, is set out as follows:

  • ‘Violence’ means violence against persons/property, and includes threatening violence.
  • ‘Disorder’ includes using hate crime, referring to race, nationality, ethnic origins. Including using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour.

When these conditions are substantiated, a Football Banning Order may be imposed, with a maximum duration of 10 years. These orders may impose restrictions on attending football events, frequenting pubs, and travelling during specific hours.

In case of football related abuse charges

Should you find yourself facing allegations of football related abuse, seek guidance from one of our specialised solicitors well versed in football related legal matters.