Police boss calling for new laws to stop football fans being victimised


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Football fans across the country are being victimised because of legislation built on the lies told to the Hillsborough inquiry, according to a top policing boss.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, a dedicated Wrexham fan, says it is time the laws affecting football supporters were revised in the light of the revelations that much of the evidence given to the original enquiry was false.

Mr Jones led a successful campaign to free the derby match between Wrexham and neighbours Chester FC from so-called ‘bubble’ match restrictions on away supporters travelling to and from the games.

Now he has turned his attention to the wider restrictions on supporters which were brought into law following the Taylor Report into the 1989 FA Cup semi-final tragedy at Hillsborough in Sheffield when 96 Liverpool supporters died.

The Commissioner, a season ticket-holder at Wrexham and a member of the fans consortium which owns the club, has now written to the Football Supporters Federation asking that the matter be raised at the next meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Football Supporters on May 1.

He said: “In my opinion the laws framed following Hillsborough place far too many restrictions on the freedoms of football fans compared to the followers of other sports and were intended for a long-gone era.

“This legislation was introduced after Hillsborough and following recommendations from the Taylor Report and we now know that much of the evidence provided to the enquiry led by Lord Justice Taylor was false and misleading.

“That legislation should be reviewed in the light of the facts shown by the inquests into the deaths of those unfortunate fans, inquests only held because of the fight for justice fought by the families of those Liverpool supporters.

“Football fans have been wrongfully victimised because of the pack of lies told to the enquiry and we should now be creating better legislation, especially around travelling restrictions.”

The ‘bubble’ match restrictions on Wrexham v Chester games, which meant that all away fans had to travel to the game on designated transport – usually club coaches – from specific pick-up points although the two clubs are just 14 miles apart, ended this season.

Mr Jones, who had pleaded for both sets of supporters to set an example, said he felt vindicated by the fact that the fixtures, which feature the closest international rivalry in British club football, passed off without any major incidents.

He added: “One of my election promises when I stood for North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner was to end these restrictions on the freedom of movement of fans, the vast majority of whom are law-abiding.

“These restrictions were stopped this season and disaster didn’t befall the fans, the clubs or the police.

“Many fans are fed up of being treated as criminals for travelling and supporting a sporting event and not a confrontational public order situation.”

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