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Mr. Peter Pike (Burnley): My right hon. Friend will know that one of the biggest causes of disorder in many football grounds is racism. Does he accept that racism is a factor that we need to look at in the legislation? Will he take this opportunity to say that the House gives its full support to the current campaign to kick racism out of football?
Mr. Denham: My hon. Friend is rightwe are currently in a 10 or 13-day period in which the premier league is promoting anti-racist campaigning at league grounds. On Saturday I was at St. Mary's stadium in Southampton, where that was given a high profile. I entirely agree that it is important to continue the successful efforts of recent years to tackle racism, which is particularly important at the current time when, as my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said earlier, people want to exploit any tensions within our society. I am therefore grateful to my hon. Friend for raising the matter.
As I was saying, after the trouble at Euro 2000, it was clear that a substantial number of those arrested had convictions for offences of violence or public disorder, which were not necessarily connected with football. We also found, in line with the established trend, that only one of the 965 arrested was subsequently convicted of an offence following the disturbances. Of course, the disorder caused by England fans at Euro 2000 generated a great deal of criticism. The host countries, other European countries and the international football authorities felt that the United Kingdom had to do more to protect host cities and citizens from English hooligans. UEFA threatened to expel the English team from Euro 2000 if there were any further outbursts of disorder involving English supporters.
In the light of the disorder and the information collected about the perpetrators, the legislation that we are discussing today was introduced to do a number of things. First, it will demonstrate to Governments, police forces and the public across Europe and beyond that the UK is taking effective steps to prevent English troublemakers from travelling to matches overseas. Secondly, it is designed to prevent English football from being banned from world competition. Thirdly, it will provide the police and courts with extensive powers to remove from the scene greater numbers of supporters with a track record of violence and disorder, not necessarily football related; it will remove the on-going anomaly of supporters
Those considerations led to the Football (Disorder) Act 2000, which introduced four important changes. There was widespread support on both sides of the House for two measures, the first of which abolished the distinction between a ban on attending matches at home and overseas, so that when a court imposed an order, it had the effect of the previous domestic and international banning orders combined. The second measure, which received widespread support on both sides of the House, made passport surrender during specified periods an automatic condition of a banning order. A safeguard was built in to enable the court to waive the condition in exceptional circumstances, and the power of the football banning orders authority, or the police in urgent cases, to grant exceptions was retained.
There were two more controversial measures in the 2000 Act. Section 14B empowered magistrates to impose banning orders on individuals in circumstances other than on conviction for a football-related offence. The complaint process requires the police to satisfy the court that the person before it has caused or contributed to violence and disorder, and that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the making of an order would help to prevent violence or disorder in connection with football matches.
Sections 21A and 21B provided a different route to seeking an order on complaint during control periodsthat is, the five-day period prior to an overseas match involving the England or Wales national team or an English or Welsh club side. Section 21A empowered the police to detain an individual for up to four hours, or six hours with the authorisation of an inspector, where a police officer had reasonable grounds for suspecting that a person had caused or contributed to any violence or disorder in the UK or elsewhere, and for believing that imposing a banning order on that person would help to prevent violence or disorder at or in connection with any regulated football matches.
The purpose of the detention is to enable the police to decide whether to issue a section 21B notice, which requires the individual to appear before a magistrates court within 24 hours. In the meantime, the individual is prevented from leaving England and Wales. The magistrates court would then treat the notice as an application for a section 14B banning order on complaint.
It was suggested by some in this House and the other place that sections 14B, 21A and 21B went too far. The Government did not share that perspective, but it was a genuine position for right hon. and hon. Members to hold. That is why the 2000 Act limited the lifespan of the measures. It stated that a report setting out the impact of the Act should be laid before Parliament before the powers could be renewed by affirmative instrument for a further 12 months.
That report was laid before Parliament on 20 June and it concluded with an assessment of the impact of the Act during the period concerned. It concluded that there had been no significant disorder since Euro 2000,
Mr. Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield): I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. In connection with that report and the subsequent report which he has helpfully provided today, can he tell us where detail can be obtained about the sort of cases in which challenges have been made to section 21B, the duration of those cases, and the number of times a successful challenge has been raised? I note that there are some statistics in the last report that the right hon. Gentleman produced, but is any other information available which could help the House to understand how those who challenged the making of those orders fared?
Mr. Denham: I shall be as helpful as I can. The hon. Gentleman will have noticed in the earlier report that some 30 section 21B notices were cited. Those are included in the total number44of orders on complaint. About 30 people were stopped under section 21B, and 19 of those were effectively confirmed by the courts. I am searching my notes for the exact figure, and if necessary I shall write to the hon. Gentleman, but roughly speaking, half of those cases were dismissed by the courts and the others were not pursued. It is worth bearing in mind that the great majority of those were connected with the France-England match in Paris in September 2000, and that the legislation came into force on the first day of the control period. It is reasonable to say that people were using the legislation for the very first time.
Most of the cases brought before the courts following the issue of section 21B notices were adjourned and subsequently referred to courts in the subject's area of residence. Responsibility for prosecution was also transferred from the police force issuing the section 21B notice to the force in the subject's area of residence. Inevitably, it took many months for some of the cases to be resolved. When we are in a position to analyse the corresponding set of figures in the run-up to the Munich game, we will see the benefit of a more consistent approach to the use of orders. We will also see that the police learned from the initial experience of how the courts treated evidence placed before them.
Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey): I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. My hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Bob Russell) and I are the only leftovers from the team that played this game in the last Parliament.
I want to pursue the question raised from the Conservative Front Bench. The evidence so far does not justify a continuation of the legislation. First, does the Minister accept that the vast bulk of people who have been prevented from travelling have been prevented after a conviction? That is entirely acceptable to some of us, but it is not acceptable that they should be prevented from travelling after a complaint, where there has been no previous conviction. Secondly, the report issued today shows that in many cases the court proceedings were adjourned, so there was no decision and the people
Mr. Denham: I regret that the hon. Gentleman takes that view, and I believe that he is mistaken on a key point. My understanding is that all the people who were prevented from travelling to Munich and the earlier matches overseas had convictions for violence or public order offences. Not all those convictions were for football-related violence or public order offences, but the House understands that one of the consequences of the success in recent years in tackling football violence within football stadiums has been that football violence has sometimes moved to locations several miles away from where the matches take place.
Much as it would be nice to believe that in every case that would be recorded by the courts as football-related violence, that is not the reality. The fundamental premise on which the Bill was based was the necessity to be able to take into account violence and public order misconduct, whether or not it was seen as football related. Of course it is true that the majority of banning orders rely on some previous legislationthat was always going to be the casebut we needed to build on what existed in order to close a loophole.
I shall make a point now that I intended to make later. Clearly, there is a considerable amount of video material on the misconduct that occurred in Germany around the Munich match. There was some trouble, and the legislation gives us the ability, I hope, to identify at least some of the ringleaders and participants in that action and to apply for banning orders under the Bill. If the legislation were not in place, as the hon. Gentleman suggested, we would not be able to do that. We would know who was involved and what they had done, we would know that they had participated in acts of violence in Germany, but we would be utterly powerless to prevent them from travelling to another away game. That is what he is advocating, and I believe that he is wrong.