The article below outlines the new legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament, circulated by the SFA, detailing new codes of behaviour for football fans. It comes at a time when the reputation of Clyde FC has come into question following unacceptable behaviour by some at Stranraer and Alloa recently.
The club will issue a statement on these particular incidents in due course and will take appropriate action.
Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012
The new laws came into force on 1st March 2012. The Act provides for two new offences: Offensive Behaviour related to football and Threatening Communications.
Offensive Behaviour at football
The offence will cover sectarian and other offensive chanting and threatening behaviour related to football which is likely to cause public disorder. It covers:
- Expressing or inciting religious, racial or other forms of hatred.
- Threatening behaviour or behaviour which would be Offensive to any reasonable person
- Covers behaviour at and on the way to or from a “regulated football match”, which includes league, European and international matches.
- Definition based on football banning orders (FBO) legislation, which means there is the potential for an FBO to be imposed in every case.
- Also covers anywhere a match is being broadcast in a public place, and travel to and from such places.
- Covers a wide range of behaviours with appropriate relevant penalties ranging from fixed penalty notices (£4O) and Community Payback Orders to a maximum of 5 years in prison and an unlimited fine.
The offence will strengthen current law covering threats of serious harm and criminalise threats which incite religious hatred. It covers:
- Threats of serious harm intended to cause fear and alarm, or reckless as to whether they do. This includes implied threats (e.g. the posting of bullets or images depicting serious harm).
- Threats intended to incite religious hatred.
- It is a defence that the behaviour was in the situation “reasonable”. This is intended to exclude artistic performance etc.
- Maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and an unlimited fine.
The offence will NOT:
- Stop peaceful preaching or proselytising.
- Restrict freedom of speech including the right to criticise or comment on religion or non-religious beliefs, even in harsh terms.
- Criminalise jokes and satire about religion or non-religious belief.
The Act can be read on the Scottish Parliament website.