Freedom Hotline's blog

Defending freedom for football supporters

On 30 October, the Manifesto Club partnered the FSF and the Battle of Ideas to host a meeting about the regulation of football fans.

Here is a post by Peter Lloyd, author of the Manifesto Club’s report ‘Criminalising Football Fans – The case Against ‘Bubble Matches’, summarising some conclusions from the meeting.


In the wake of the 30 October debate, we should seek:

  • A recognition that football is overwhelmingly a force for good with generally well behaved fans, and with grounds and surrounding areas extremely safe compared to other urban environments;
  • Blackpool Council using new ASB powers to ban inappropriate dress

    I was just on BBC Radio Lancashire with Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Housing, Public Safety and Enforcement Gillian Campbell. She said that the council would use the new anti-social behaviour powers today, issuing community protection notices against some businesses. She also stated the council's intention to use public spaces protection orders to ban street drinking in the town centre, and also to target the dress of stag and hen parties that visit the town. There will be a restriction on 'public nudity' or inappropriate dress in the daytime.

    How will councils use the ASB Act?

    The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act went live on 20 October.

    A Manifesto Club report last month found that powers will be used to ban rough sleeping, ball games and 'inappropriate dress'.

    Here is the latest news on how councils and police are planning to use the new powers:

    Wrexham fans fight back against ‘bubble matches’

    A guest post by Peter Lloyd, author of the Manifesto Club report on 'bubble matches'.

    The football ‘bubble match’ phenomenon may be fading, thanks to increased opposition from supporters and with some major clubs, notably Newcastle United, Sunderland and Hull City, siding with their supporters to overturn the imposition of bubble conditions. This has been reinforced through greater awareness of bubble matches in the mainstream press.

    Westminster Council - stop the prosecution of young musician Dan Wilson

    A guest post by Jonny Walker, director of Keep Streets Live

    On Wednesday 20 August at 10am a talented young musician who has represented Great Britain in the world loop championships appeared in court in Westminster answering criminal charges of ‘illegal street trading’ and using a speaker in the street, for a 10 minute busk in Leicester Square early this year with a couple of CDs of his own music with a sign saying ‘suggested donation £5’ and giving details of his Facebook page. This was his fourth court appearance relating to this one incident of spontaneous live music and he now faces a fifth court hearing in November. 
If convicted this graduate of Leeds College of Music will have a life-long criminal record which will affect his ability to travel aboard, an essential part of life as a touring musician, and a heavy fine.

    The injustice of fining parents for a family holiday

    Parents are organising against the increasing habit of fining families who take their kids on holiday in term-time.

    Fines for truancy have grown astronomically – from 3,483 in 2004-5, to 32,641 in 2011-12, to the record 52,370 in 2012-13. In many councils the majority of these fines are issued to holidaying families (two thirds of the total in Kent, for example).

    Prosecutions for truancy have also grown, reaching 8000 in 2012-13. One couple recently received criminal records for taking their kids on holiday to Australia.

    Malaysian photographer refused entry: Testimony from Jemima Yong

    Jemima Yong, a talented young photographer and performance maker, was recently detained in London Heathrow Airport, denied entry and sent back to Singapore, 18 hours after arriving in the UK. Jemima is a Malaysian citizen and a permanent resident of Singapore. She studied and lived in the UK for five years. Jemima had not done anything illegal on arrival but the Home Office believed that she might break immigration laws whilst she was here.

    Fined for drying a bench in Glasgow

    I have just received a letter from an elderly gentleman in Glasgow, who was fined earlier this year while in the process of drying a bench.

    He has arthritis and wanted to sit down; he had one handkerchief but the bench was still wet, so he left the tissue for a minute to go to a cafe opposite to get some more tissues and finish the job. Yet no sooner had he stepped away from his bench, he was approached by a warden who slapped him with a fine for littering. He explained that he hadn't left the tissue, he was only going for a minute to get more tissues, but his explanations cut no ice.

    Leicester Sq busking crackdown funded by private company

    The band King's Parade were arrested while busking in Leicester square in May.

    Reports from a Westminster Council meeting (1) now reveal the context for this arrest.

    The crackdown on busking in Leicester square is part of Operation Spotlight, which is funded by the private business association the Heart of London. The minutes report:

      'Operation Spotlight is a HoLBA (Heart of London Business Alliance) funded initiative aimed at deterring performers/buskers, pedicabs with amplification, persistent beggars and ticket touts.'

    Is feeding the birds now a crime in the UK?

    Is feeding the birds now a crime in the UK?

    Judging from the number of recent cases involving crust-scattering pensioners, you would have to conclude, yes.

    A woman in Blaenau Gwent was fined £125 for throwing a piece of bread roll for the birds out of her car window.

    In another recent case, a Devon woman was fined for ‘littering peanuts while feeding pigeons'.

    The Blaenau Gwent fine was issued by private security guards, paid on a commission basis, with a propensity to fine for negligible offences. (This is the company that issued a fine for a thread of cotton falling off a woman's glove.)

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