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Football Bill moves forward

Four members of the Justice Committee are unhappy with the two new offences proposed in the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill, according to the Stage 2 report into the Bill.

The first of the new offences would criminalise offensive or threatening behaviour likely to incite public disorder at certain football matches. The second offence, that of ‘Threatening communications’, provides for a criminal offence concerning the sending of communications which contain threats of serious violence or which contain threats intended to incite religious hatred.

Five members support the proposals, believing there is a gap in the law that would be addressed by the new offences.

A minority of the committee, however, believe that current legislation, if properly enforced, already allows police and prosecutors to target offensive behaviour and threatening communications effectively.

“The Committee are united in our belief that sectarianism and other offensive behaviour likely to provoke public disorder is a blight that must be wiped out of Scottish football,” said Committee Convener Christine Grahame MSP.

“The majority of members support the Bill as an important way forward in challenging unacceptable behaviour in 21st century Scotland. A minority are not convinced,” she explained. “But we all agree that the football authorities must shoulder some of the blame. Their lack of action in joint working and clear leadership in working out who is in charge of disciplinary issues concerning SPL club fans must be addressed – and swiftly.”