Publication - Research and analysis

An Evaluation of Football Banning Orders in Scotland

Published: 29 Jul 2011
Part of:

This report presents the findings of an evaluation into the use of football banning order (FBO) legislation in Scotland.

72 page PDF

1.1 MB

72 page PDF

1.1 MB

An Evaluation of Football Banning Orders in Scotland

72 page PDF

1.1 MB


Aims and scope of the research
1.1 The aim of this research was to investigate the operation and effectiveness of Football Banning Orders in Scotland.

1.2 This involved investigating the interpretation and application of legislation; the use of operational procedures to give effect to that legislation; stakeholder understanding and perceptions of FBOs; the effectiveness of FBOs in preventing further offending; and examining - and, if appropriate, learning lessons from - the application and use of FBOs in England and Wales.

1.3 In pursuing these complex aims, it was intended that this evaluation should generate lessons and recommendations as to how the FBO scheme might be enhanced in Scotland.

Methodological approach - Scotland
1.4 In order to fulfil these aims, this project analysed relevant administrative data, assessed official documents, and explored FBO perceptions and practices amongst key stakeholders. These methods were used to build a picture about:

  • Awareness and understanding about the role of FBOs
  • Use of FBOs for different types of cases in different jurisdictions
  • Perceptions of how FBOs have been used successfully and unsuccessfully
  • Trends and patterns of football related violence and disorder
  • Trajectories of offending for those convicted of football related violence

1.5 Interviews with national/strategic stakeholders and city/club level practitioners - We conducted interviews with a wide range of relevant stakeholders, including police football intelligence officers, police match commanders, other police officials including the FBO manager, club security officials, Procurator Fiscal deputes and Sheriffs, and relevant officials in the Scottish Football Association and Scottish Premier League (see appendix 1 for further details). In addition to formal interviews, members of the research team were also able to attend formal FBO training events held, respectively, for police match commanders, and for Procurator Fiscal deputes.

1.6 As well as gauging respondent views on the purposes of FBOs and the 'mechanics' of the FBO regime, we also aimed to gauge the views of club and police officials as to current trends and patterns in football related violence and disorder. Police, Procurator Fiscal depute and Sheriff respondents were also asked, where practical, to reflect on specific FBO cases that they had dealt with, and to use these examples to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of the FBO regime as they saw it.

1.7 A key conceptual underpinning for the evaluation design was that FBO use can only be interpreted and assessed within the broader context of club and city level partnership approaches for dealing with football related security. With this in mind, key aspects of this evaluation were focussed on a small sample of club/city based study sites: Edinburgh (Hearts and Hibs), Glasgow (Rangers and Celtic) and Aberdeen.

1.8 We selected two city areas with contrasting performances in terms of the number of FBOs issued: (Edinburgh and Glasgow). The clubs covered also encompassed two big, high attendance clubs (Rangers and Celtic), and the three clubs with the next three highest average attendance figures, (Hearts, Hibs and Aberdeen). Finally, the Strathclyde area was also host to a pilot project - initiated by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service ( COPFS) that aimed to improve the processing of football-related cases by appointing a Procurator Fiscal depute in three Glasgow divisions. Each depute was to take responsibility for reviewing and managing all those offences that might merit a banning order within that division (see Chapter 4).

1.9 The review of administrative data - served the following primary purposes:

  • To produce a typology of the sorts of FBO cases successfully and unsuccessfully progressed within Scotland.
  • To analyse attrition in Scottish cases.
  • To collect data on a sample of offenders convicted for football related violence during the first two years since the introduction of FBOs into Scotland (2006 to 2008) and to look at subsequent levels of offending over a two-year period, as well as for a period prior to an offender's first conviction during that introductory time period.

1.10 The first administrative data source used was the database of all successful and unsuccessful FBOs issued in Scotland since the launch of the legislation. As well as providing headline performance figures, these databases also contained the personal details of all individuals convicted of a relevant football-related offence of violence and disorder. This allowed us in turn to select further samples of individuals against which we could then collect further administrative data.

1.11 The second administrative data source was electronic case files for a sample of 60 offenders supplied by COPFS. This included a summary of the police report that went to the relevant COPFS office, the police remarks section in which any FBO request would be made, and the written court instructions that would have guided the Procurator Fiscal depute in court in terms of applying for bail or suggesting that an FBO might be appropriate in a particular case. Twenty offenders with FBOs, and 40 offenders without FBOs were randomly chosen from databases of successful and unsuccessful FBO applications. One non- FBO record had to be discarded for lack of information.

1.12 The final administrative data source included paper copies of criminal records provided by the Scottish Criminal Records Office, for 186 FBO and non- FBO offenders, again randomly selected from the FBO and non- FBO databases. These records were inputted manually onto a database and then analysed to examine both precursor and post- FBO offending. Details of the sample are provided in Appendix 3.

1.13 The review of documentation - This involved examining the legislation and accompanying guidance in each jurisdiction, the strategic level documentation that 'integrates' FBO provisions into broader football security provision, and the focussed guidance for practitioners in different agencies relating to the interpretation and administration of FBOs. Additionally, we reviewed the limited material available that attempts to review, evaluate, or critically consider the use of FBOs to date ( e.g. Home Office 2005; Pearson and McArdle, 2005).

Methodological approach - England and Wales
1.14 In England and Wales interviews were completed with match commanders, football banning officers and football intelligence officers in four areas- London, Greater Manchester, Cleveland and Northumbria (a full list of those interviewed is presented in Appendix 2). The officers in London covered Arsenal; in Manchester: Manchester United; in Cleveland: Middlesbrough and Hartlepool United and in Northumbria: Newcastle United and Sunderland.

1.15 The interviews focused on four main themes:

  • The need for FBOs within the area/use of the legislation
  • The targeting of FBOs and the evidence required to obtain an FBO
  • The enforcement of orders
  • The effectiveness of orders

1.16 A focus group was also held with English and Welsh stakeholders in order to obtain a strategic overview of banning orders as they have developed and are used in England and Wales. Those attending included the Crown Prosecution Service lead on banning orders, a Home Office representative with responsibilities relating to national policy relating to football and disorder, and two other members of the UK Football Policing Unit ( UKFPU).

1.17 The issues discussed related to the background and evolution of legislation relating to banning orders, the considerations that go into applying for and obtaining banning orders, the conditions that are applied to orders, the variations in patterns of application and award of banning orders, patterns of breach of banning orders and responses to those breaches, the perceived effectiveness of banning orders and lessons that were deemed relevant to Scotland.