Football thugs face new laws

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The Independent Online
New measures to ban hooligans from travelling to football matches abroad and obtaining tickets are being considered by Michael Howard, the Home Secretary.

The move follows growing concern that the existing laws are not tough enough to prevent determined thugs from getting into football grounds.

His comments follow the disclosure earlier this week that a small group of "kingpin" hooligans are responsible for masterminding football violence. The problem was highlighted in February when violence by English supporters during a "friendly" international against the Irish Republic led to the game being abandoned. There are fears of this being repeated in next summer's European championships in England.

Mr Howard said yesterday that he will be concentrating on ways of stopping known suspected football hooligans getting into matches, improving arrangements for selling tickets, extending co-operation between police agencies and with overseas forces, using police spotters to identify known thugs, and producing police intelligence reports.

He said: "Like every true fan, I recall all too vividly the disgraceful events last season involving so-called English fans both at home and abroad.

"A great deal has, of course, been done in the effort to prevent football hooliganism inside our football grounds. I am currently considering what further legislative or administrative measures may be necessary.

"In particular I am looking at ways in which the restriction order scheme under the 1989 Football Spectators Act may be made more effective to stop those who have been convicted of a football-related offence travelling abroad."

Those subject to restriction orders are required to report to a police station roughly when the match is taking place. Although it is an offence to fail to do so, many hooligans ignore the order.

The Act also enables magistrates in England and Wales to make orders against those convicted of offences in Scotland, Italy and Sweden.