Football-Only Police

Football fans are also subject to special forms of extrajudicial policing and monitoring of their actions, from a series of special bodies. These include:

Safety Advisory Group

A body coordinated by the local authority, composed of local authority representatives, police, football club officials, and emergency services. Safety Advisory Groups have been responsible for imposing travel restrictions on fans going to away games, such as prohibitions on independent travel.

Football stewards

Responsible for searching fans on their way into the ground, filming them during the game (sometimes covertly using body cameras), and ejecting or banning fans from matches for alleged breaches of grounds regulations. They pass on supporters’ details to club safety officers, who invariably impose club bans without any right of appeal by the fan. Fans have been ejected for such offences as standing up at the back for 10 minutes, sitting next to a friend who was drunk or simply arguing with stewards. Clubs’ football safety officers are in charge of the stewards, who may be directly employed or agency staff.

Football liaison officer/intelligence officer

These officers travel with fans to away matches at home and abroad to observe their behaviour and report back to the club, and will liaise with local police. There are also undercover ‘spotters’ who mingle with the fans and collect intelligence. Intelligence gathered could lead to fans being added to police lists of ‘risk fans’, being barred from their club, or used as evidence to support a Football Banning Order on complaint.

UK Football Policing Unit

Works with all 43 police forces in England and Wales plus ‘partner organisations’ abroad, and are responsible for intelligence gathering and information sharing. They had a budget of £1,377,714.82 in 2014–15, and deployed 78 police ‘spotters’ overseas between June 2012 and June 2015.