At a well-attended emergency meeting of Fans Against Criminalisation this afternoon (Sunday 14/6/15) the findings of the Evaluation Study [http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/06/7094/0] into the Offensive Behaviour Act carried out by a team at the University of Stirling and associated announcements by the Scottish Government on Friday 12/6/15 were discussed.
Our view is that from the outset, despite the claims from the then First Minister, Alex Salmond, that he ‘wished to build consensus’ the only support that the government has managed to attract for the Act is that of the Police Service of Scotland and the only consensus that is being built is that of the opposition to this dreadful, unworkable and pernicious legislation.
Their claim of public support for the Act is based on figures which show that people want action on sectarianism and not specifically that they support this Act. They also conveniently ignore the fact that the overwhelming majority of sectarian offences (ie those with religious aggravation) do not take place in football grounds [http://www.gov.scot/resource/0042/00424865.pdf]. In addition, many of the incidents for which people have been charged under the Act are unrelated to sectarianism.
- The action of the Scottish Government in giving off-the-record press briefings alleging that the Act will stay in place. This undermines the integrity of the Review process and the role of Parliament and its members.
- The use of the statistics from a highly skewed YouGov poll commissioned by the government to mislead the public.
- The continued reference by the Government to the Stirling research as being the ‘Review’ which the legislation requires them to have in an attempt to prevent the full and transparent examination of the Act which the public in general, and football fans in particular, expect and are entitled to. These claims are made despite a statement issued by the University of Stirling on Friday (12/6/15) afternoon that the work produced by their team is not ‘the review’ and their work cannot be interpreted as ‘an endorsement of the Act’.
- The conviction rate for this Act over the whole period of its existence is standing at 22%. This compares with a conviction rate for rape (itself notoriously low) in 2013-14 of 41%
- The scale of the resource devoted to enforcing this Act (including a specialised unit of the police service) which necessarily diverts finances and manpower from the detection and prosecution of more serious offenders.
- The expansion of support for our campaign from other fan groups from Motherwell and from Hamilton Accies
- The public support of the Scottish Labour Party, the Scottish Greens, the Scottish Liberal Democrats the Scottish Conservatives and the Scottish Socialist Party.
- The expression of solidarity from the Scottish Young Green’s and the youth wing of the Trade Union movement.
- To continue to oppose this legislation by all peaceful means until it is repealed.
We call on the Government to listen to football fans; to listen to those whose lives have been drastically affected by a piece of legislation which is a stain on the justice system of Scotland.
Government-funded research and You-Gov Poll released today
FAC will provide a detailed response to the report from the Stirling University research team in the coming days. In the meantime here we attach the detail of the You-Gov Poll of just over 1000 people. Look at the questions! YouGov Poll