Howard to curb thugs' travel plans

MICHAEL Howard has signalled a clamp down on football “hooligans” which could see an extension of court powers to prevent troublemakers from travelling abroad.

The Home Secretary has earmarked the existing legislation designed to prevent violence abroad for particular scrutiny as part of a general review of the problem of crowd violence.

“I am looking at ways in which the restriction order scheme under the Football Spectators Act 1989 may be made more effective to stop those who have been convicted of a football related offence travelling abroad,” he said.

The Act, which complements the Public Order Act 1986 empowering courts to exclude people from domestic games, was designed to prevent the kind of crowd trouble which forced the England versus Ireland friendly to be abandoned earlier this year. So far, however, only 26 restriction orders have been issued.

A spokeswoman for the Magistrates Association said some magistrates seemed unaware of their powers to stop people from attending matches.

In an article in next month's The Magistrate magazine, Sergeant Sean Cunningham, who is helping the police gear up for next year's European Championships, will remind magistrates of their powers.

“Exclusion orders are not widely known about. There seems to have been a lack of communication from the police to the CPS to the courts to the magistrates,” he said.

Barrister Edward Grayson, president of the British Association for Sport and Law, said the laws were already there to tackle hooliganism. But he suggested the Football Spectators Act 1989 could be extended so those who committed football related offences in all foreign countries could be prevented from further travel to games.