Football Bill through to the second round

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Indy Politics

Legislative measures to curb football hooliganism cleared the Commons early yesterday after a series of concessions by the Government.

Legislative measures to curb football hooliganism cleared the Commons early yesterday after a series of concessions by the Government.

However, the Football (Disorder) Bill will now face scrutiny by peers, many of whom are concerned at its possible infringement of civil liberties.

During the debate, Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, sought to appease backbenchers by amending the legislation to ensure new police powers to arrest suspected hooligans are restricted.

Mr Straw said the time police would be allowed to hold a suspect would be reduced from 24 to four hours, with an extension to six where an inspector agreed. He said a police officer would need to have "reasonable grounds" for detaining a potential hooligan, as well as believing that the imposition of a banning order would help to prevent disorder or violence at a football match.

Home Office ministers have defended their decision to rush through the Bill by stressing it must be in place in time for England World Cup qualifying games in the autumn.

Under the legislation, the police may confiscate passports from people they think likely to cause trouble, even if they have no convictions. Drunkenness, abusive chanting or unpleasant tattoos are grounds for confiscation with an inspector's permission.

Suspected thugs will be able to appear in court within 24 hours to challenge the decision and can be arrested if an officer thinks they will break the order. Magistrates will be able to ban them from matches if there is any evidence they have been involved in "violent or abusive" behaviour in the past.

Mr Straw has already accepted demands for extra safeguards by allowing Parliament to review the contentious parts of the legislation next year.

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