MSPs question sectarianism Bill after rise in banning orders

A surge in football banning orders has led politicians to doubt the need for a controversial Bill to tackle sectarianism.

Between April and October fifty football banning orders (FBOs) were issued, five more than in the whole of the previous year.

Most of the FBOs were related to sectarian or violent offences. The increase in the number of cases has prompted critics to question the need for new legislation.


Graeme Pearson MSP, a former police football match commander and member of Holyrood’s Justice Committee, said: “While everyone wants an end to the evils of sectarianism that is no excuse for poor legislation and there are huge concerns about the potential unintended negative consequences of the SNP’s plans.

“We must fully use the powers in place to deal with sectarianism before deciding whether there is need for further measures.”


David McLetchie MSP, Conservative justice spokesman, said: “These statistics prove there are measures for dealing with sectarian behaviour, and call into question the need for the SNP’s slapdash legislation.

“We have called for more effective use of non-legislative measures and better enforcement of existing laws before rushing through a new bill.”

Football banning orders were introduced in Scotland in 2006 in an effort to tackle sectarian bigotry, football abuse and hooliganism.


The Scottish Government insists that both the banning orders and the new bill are needed.

A Government spokesman said: “The Offensive Behaviour at Football Bill clarifies and strengthens existing laws – for example by providing our police with the tools to arrest those shaming Scotland abroad.

“We also need FBOs to be used effectively, and the increase reflects the hard work of the police and the courts.”


Earlier this month the Scottish National Party forced forward its sectarianism legislation in the face of united opposition from the other main parties.

MSPs from opposition parties criticised the Bill as “rushed” and “flawed” after the Government used its majority to win a crucial vote on the legislation.

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