A statement from the solicitors handling the case for our members on the Spirit of Shankly coach to Sunderland away in 2011 in relation to action by four police forces
The fans were travelling back from a game at Sunderland in March 2011 and were stopped by the Durham, North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester forces from leaving their coaches during the journey back to Liverpool. A complaint made against Durham Constabulary was upheld, but, despite this is appears that all four forces are fighting the claim.
The fans are all members of the supporters’ group The Spirit of Shankly (SoS), and Roy Bentham from SoS said “We don’t want this to happen again and we want the police forces to be more accountable. We don’t want football fans to be treated as criminals.”
The case was referred to DPG by the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) as part of their ongoing campaign “watching football is not a crime”. For too long, the police have worked on the assumption that, in order to deal with a small minority of hooligans, most fans should be treated as potential public order problems. It is by fans standing up and challenging this, that the way supporters are policed can be changed. Amanda Jacks from the FSF said “The FSF sees this as a very important case. It is all about making the police realise that fans should not be treated like criminals when they are just peacefully following their team”.
Darren White, the solicitor dealing with the case said “this case is significant in that it seeks to assert the same rights for football supporters to go about their chosen activites peacefully and without interference from the police as has been established for political protestors”.
Further details about the case can be read in the Liverpool Echo here.