Brighton and Hove Albion v Crystal Palace – Hopefully a Better Fan Policing Experience

Last Friday ahead of the CPFC v BHAFC match I blogged about the restrictions in place and how they were unworkable.  If you didn’t read my blog, it is below, including a letter to the Met Police Commissioner and a statement about police powers of stop and search.

Hopefully this can be a more positive post.  I have heard from Sussex Police who have asked that I pass the word around.  They have no intentions of stopping fans and asking to check their tickets and ID, nor are they going to ask stewards to do the work for them.  Obviously the usual rules regarding stop and search still apply, so if they think that an offence has been committed, or there is a risk of an offence or disorder, they reserve the right under PACE to stop and search, and take a person’s details.  But they do not intend to engage in the draconian restrictions I refer to in my blog below.

I know some fans were treated like criminals on Friday, forced to provide their details before entering the stadium and held for so long that they missed kick off.  Hopefully this will not happen at the Amex.

Wishing you all a great match experience, no matter who you support, and if you see me on the train or around the pubs on Monday night touting the #SaveUkJustice epetition, please come and say ‘Hi’ and sign the petition.  Hopefully you will never need legal aid and the services of a lawyer, but you should ‘never say never’.  Infact any challenge to actions, such as the Met Police behavior last Friday, will probably not be possible unless we are successful in defeating the proposed amendments to legal aid and judicial review

The pre and post match info can be found here Seagulls Pre and Post match entertainment and travel.

If you want a handy guide to stop and search laws, download the stop and search app

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I know the restrictions placed on fans traveling to the Crystal Palace v Brighton and Hove Albion match today and the reverse on Monday have  caused concern among fans. I have received emails and tweets criticizing the ‘draconian’ measures, with questions such as ‘since when did ID cards come in through the back door?’ and I agree that they are draconian, and more importantly I believe they are unworkable.  They don’t take into account the lack of powers a steward has to stop a fan, it is certainly not clear why there could be the need to stop and check fans when they are traveling home, and I think they open both the police and the Clubs up to legal challenge.   See my letter to the Met Police Commissioner here Signed Letter To Commissioner Bernard Hogan Howe on police restrictions on fans at the CPFC v BHAFC matches 10th May and 13th May 2013   The FSF have also produced a handy guide Statement-from-Lochlinn-Parker

However, the reality is that if the police do stop you and ask for your ID, if you want to go into the match you will probably have to hand it over.  You can guarantee that there will be a large police presence at both matches and the first sign of discontent among fans will bring a risk that dispersal notices will be considered.  The dispersal notice means an instant ban from the match, and probable arrest if you refuse to leave the area.  We can bring the legal challenges afterwards, but by then it will be too late you will have missed the match, and worse..

I will keep you updated with the progress of my letter and the Freedom of Information requests on the decision making behind these restrictions, in the hope we can prevent this happening again in the future and to other fans…. but I could do with a few days off over the Summer, so please, don’t get nicked for kicking off with the police or a steward…and definitely…no smoke bombs!

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About gurdena

Social Justice Lawyer, interested in all things contentious. Specialising in criminal law, and anything criminal justice related, also employment law. Door tenant at 1 Grays Inn Square chambers. Find out more at www.alisongurden.com

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