As Bristol City fans take legal action against West Midlands Police over alledgedly unjustified use of dispersal powers on supporters they are launching a crowdfund to help their cause and other fans in future. Stu Rogers from Bristol City Supporters' Club & Trust tells us more...
Police across the country have been using draconian powers to threaten and intimidate football fans on their way to watch their favourite teams.
In September 2015, ten Bristol City supporters who are not on any list of so-called 'risk supporters', were surrounded and threatened with force including the use of police dogs, publicly accused of being hooligans by an inspector using a megaphone, detained for over 90 minutes, and put back on a train home without being allowed to attend the game they had come to watch.
They had all travelled to the game independently, didn’t all know each other and had tickets for the match.
All this happened in September 2015 before the match at Birmingham City. Eight out of the ten were issued with dispersal notices pursuant to Section 35 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime & Disorder Act 2014 by West Midlands Police.
All ten are claiming false imprisonment and a breach of Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Particulars of theat claim, backed by The Bristol City Supporters Club & Trust, were served back in January this year on West Midlands Police who have to date denied that they acted unlawfully.
Three years on, almost to the day, and we are still seeking justice for innocent fans being unfairly treated and prevented from attending a football match.
To get the result needed to ensure this doesn’t continue to happen to other football fans up and down the country, we really need your support.
Even though we have a Conditional Fee Agreement in place, taking a police force to court is expensive and not without risk. So, we are asking fans from every club around the country to give a small amount to a fund being set up to help mitigate any financial risk for the claimants.
Hopefully, we will win, however, we need to safeguard against West Midlands Police claiming their costs in the event we lose or are forced to pull out.
If many fans could give just a small amount, we will soon reach our £10,000 target. In the event the fund is not required, it will be donated to the Football Supporters' Federation (FSF) to be held in reserve for any future case in which the FSF is assisting fans of any club caught up in a similar situation or require legal representation.
Please do donate what you are able - remember that the primary purpose of bringing this action is to ensure that future use of these dispersal powers is not abused by West Midlands Police or any other forces around the country.
The potential benefit is far wider than just our fans, it could positively impact your own matchday experience and that of your fellow fans.
To donate, simply click the link below. It only takes a few minutes and just a few quid will make a difference.
On behalf of the fans bringing this case, thank you for your support. We really do appreciate it. Remember, if we do not use this fund for this case, any fan from any club requiring legal representation could benefit in the future!
The FSF blog is the space to challenge perceived wisdom, entertain readers and inform our members. The views expressed are those of the author and they don't necessarily represent FSF policy and (pay attention journalists) shouldn't be attributed to the FSF.
Thanks to PA Images for the image used in this blog.