The curse of the UK Football Policing Unit..

Picture the scene….. 6am you get a knock on your front door, when you answer a police officer who has travelled from London and stayed in a hotel overnight so that they can be at your door at 6am,  tells you that you have to surrender your passport and attend court by 10am that day. You explain that you have to go to work, but the police officer tells you that if you don’t attend the court can issue a warrant for your arrest.  So you attend court by 10am but are told you can’t see a duty solicitor due to the fact you don’t fall into the duty solicitor scheme, so you are in court on your own. You then ask for an adjournment to obtain legal advice, and the police officer makes a fuss about how this is happening more and more, people using a delaying tactic of asking for a lawyer, and it mustn’t be allowed to continue.
The court allow you an adjournment to contact a lawyer, much to the police officers disgust. But the court places you under strict bail conditions, and allows the officer to keep your passport.
Fast forward to a couple of months later, you are still under bail conditions, but attend court with a lawyer. Your lawyer has identified that the police officer was asserting a power he doesn’t actually have, but the police officer decides he knows better and refuses to drop the application, and by this time has introduced ‘his barrister’ who turns out to be a senior lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service who is assisting the police officer, off radar from the CPS.  The court refuses to deal with the matter due to lack of time, but when your lawyer asks to go into court to argue against the bail conditions, the police officer backs off and agrees that the bail conditions are not required and you walk out of the court building  with no bail conditions, and your passport returned. 
Fast forward another few months, you have had to deal with the stress of the case hanging over you, the threat of £5000 in costs (which includes his overnight hotel cost) which the police officer has said he will ‘get’ when he wins as the court always awards him his costs.  
You return to court with your lawyer, a judge takes one look at your lawyer’s legal argument and agrees that the police officer has no power to act as he is asserting, the lawyer for the police officer contests this and even tries to throw in the previous convictions of one of your friends (who is nothing to do with the case) to show how you have associated with a violent criminal in the past.  Your lawyer raises the fact that the application is very weak if the police are relying on the association of a person with a criminal conviction to win their case. But the police officer and his lawyer still try to pursue the case, so convinced are they that this is a serious matter.  The Judge throws out the case and awards you your defence costs in total (which will have to be paid out of the police officers Force funds – so public funds which can no longer be used to deal with crime), and tells the police officer and his lawyer that this was a very weak and thin application and that they both need to think about the cases they bring to court in future.
So, what was the behaviour that was so serious that it justified over 6 months of the police officer and a Crown Prosecution Service lawyer doing everything they could to win the case against you?  Writing a rude email to the England Supporters Club.…Yes, you have been put through over 6 months of stress, thousands of pounds of public funds (police officer & Crown Prosecutor attendance at court on 3 occasions, and valuable court time taken up)  have been spent in bringing the case against you, your passport was taken from you… all because a police officer (who proudly asserted he is the chief football banning order officer for the UK Football Policing Unit) wanted a football banning order to add to his tally. 
I have previously written about the fact the UK Football Policing Unit tries to exercise powers it doesn’t have, due to self inflated and misguided self importance. This rubs off on the officers who are seconded to the Unit. The police officer in question would not accept that the UK Football Policing Unit had no power to apply for football banning orders despite the fact the legislation is clear.. the UKFPU has no power to do so. The Crown Prosecutor (who has in the past been seconded to the UKFPU) also refused to accept the law, and used underhand tactics to get myself and the solicitor who instructed me to back off. 
It has to be questioned, in times of austerity when violent knife crime is resulting in deaths monthly on our streets, and police officers numbers are dwindling so much that they cannot keep up with this violence, how does a Home Office Unit, which has more Directors and Deputy Directors than it has permanent staff, and has no legal basis, continue to receive funds from the Government.
I’m guessing that some awkward questions are being asked of the police officer and Crown Prosecutor after this case, but that doesn’t detract from the fact it was able to get as far as court. 
And spare a thought for the person who didn’t even know their previous convictions were being aired in court, as they had nothing to do with the case, all because someone they knew a few years ago wrote a rude email to the England Supporters Club! 
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About gurdena

Social Justice Barrister, interested in all things contentious & anything criminal justice related including prisoners and complaints against the police. Specialising in criminal law - mainly sex, violence, and football fans (not necessarily all 3 at the same time!). Represents people facing death penalty in the USA. Associate Member at Drystone Chambers Gurdena@btinternet.com Alison.gurden@drystone.com

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