Watching Football Is Not A Crime! is part of our ongoing drive to monitor the police in their dealings with football fans and work with them to ensure that all fans are treated fairly and within the law.
We'll always be on hand to offer advice and support to fans who feel they've been wronged by the authorities, but below you can see how our work in this area has expanded over recent seasons:
A Derby to be Proud of
Back in 2014, Northumbria Police were pushing for the Tyne-Wear derby to be played under so-called "bubble match" conditions - where away fans are escorted to and from the ground directly by police, with no freedom of movement.
The FSF led a campaign by Newcastle and Sunderland fans against such draconian restrictions under the "A Derby to be Proud of" banner - lobbying Northumbria police and the clubs to end bubble match style policing of the fixture.
Having putting together a convincing joint case, the authorities were eventually persuaded and relaxed the restrictions, allowing fans to travel to the fixture by their prefered means.
An event was held in December at the Bridge Hotel in Newcastle to celebrate the success of the campaign, featuring two ex-pros - Kevin Ball (Sunderland) and Steve Howey (Newcastle United) to talk about their derby experiences. George Caulkin, from The Times, wrote: "Nobody wants the derby to be emasculated, to be robbed of its ferocity or vibrancy, to lose its essence but, equally, it should not be a repository for bile. There are common causes, from safety, policing, pricing, to standing up for good sense".
However, fans at some fixtures across the country still have to endure bubble match restrictions such as Wrexham vs Chester and Blackburn vs Burnley. We'll continue to oppose bubble matches - working to ensure football fans are policed fairly and proportionally.
Working with authorities
In a joint report with the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) published last year, we argue that fans are part of the safety solution. Speaking about the Engaging with Supporters report, Chief executive of the SGSA Karen Eyre-White Chief Executive said: "Spectators have an important role to play in contributing to the safety at sports grounds. They bring a unique insight and understanding of the issues, behaviours and traditions of their clubs which will benefit both the planning and safety management on match day."
The report was sent out to local authorities across the country - explaining the many benefits of incorporating supporters into safety planning. Getting more supporter representatives onto local Safety Advisory Groups is an important aim, and we'll continue our work to create meaningful engagement between fans and those responsible for match-day safety.
We also continue to offer support to fans that experience problems at specific ground. Last year, we worked with Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust and the club to improve the turnstiling at White Hart Lane's following a crush before a League Cup fixture against Newcastle United. We've also been providing vaulable feedback to West Ham United and working with the authorities to improve supporter safety at the London stadium.
The overwhelming majority of match-day experiences pass without incident - and the all-time low arrest rate at football testifies to that - but occasionally things do go wrong. If that happens, and you do find yourself either mistreated by a club's employees or wrongfully charged, we're here to offer advice and support. Over the years, we've succesfully challenged the misuse of new police powers - too many to list here - as well as helping fans secure compensation when mistreated by police or club staff.
Most recently, we've assisted Bristol City fans who are preparing a case against West Midlands Police and their use of new dispersal powers within the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act (2014). Last year, Coventry City fan Mark Wynn finally secured a settlement from West Midlands Police - four years after being assaulted by anofficer while in police custody.
Since its launch WFINAC! has grown to encompass more than just policing issues. It's become something of a rallying cry for supporters who feel they've been poorly treated and, often, the FSF has been able to step in and help.
If you feel you've been unfairly treated by police or stewards contact the FSF’s Amanda Jacks on 07703 519555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wins - The FSF has successfully challenged many examples of unfair treatment and continues to work proactively with clubs & police in order for fans to watch football in the best possible environment. Here are a selection of just some positive outcomes:
- Coventry fan assaulted by police officer wins settlement
- Liverpool wrongly charged with assaulting officer wins case
- QPR fan compensated after legal battle with club
- Palace fan bitten by police dog settles case