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Committee backs Offensive Behaviour Bill
Thursday, 06 October 2011

Politicians have a duty to protect public order

SNP MSPs John Finnie and Humza Yousaf have welcomed the Justice Committee's recognition that there are 'lasting problems surrounding offensive behaviour in Scottish football that need to be dealt with' and the support for 'efforts to prevent harmful and inflammatory communications online and in other types of new media' as they called on all parties to play their part in backing the Offensive Behaviour legislation.

Speaking after the publication of the report Humza Yousaf MSP said: "The Committee has recommended some changes to the bill and the Government has already made clear that it will pay close attention to the Committee’s recommendations.  

"However this report also shows those parties who are shouting loudly about their opposition to the bill didn’t try to make a single change to it.  

"It is now for those opposition members who do not want to see action taken to explain why we should do nothing or to put forward their own proposals to seriously tackle the problems Scotland faces."

Fellow committee member Mr Finnie also backed the committee's call for the football organisations to put their house in order and determine who has responsibility for disciplinary issues concerning supporters of football clubs. Mr Finnie, a former police officer, said: "This report and the vast majority of evidence to the committee recognises the need to take action to deal with offensive behaviour around football and to introduce this legislation.

"We cannot tolerate a situation where offensive behaviour that could incite public disorder is able to continue.  

"And we can no longer accept a situation where the football authorities shift responsibility for the behaviour of football fans.

"The police want action, the prosecutors want action and 91% of the Scottish public want to see action taken against offensive behaviour at football matches.  Those politicians who want to oppose this vital step have a serious responsibility to explain why."

Notes:

6. "The committee believes that there are lasting problems surrounding offensive behaviour in Scottish football that need to be dealt with"

10. "The Committee agrees that football authorities have failed to take firm action to deal with offensive behaviour at football. Over many years they have allowed the issue to drift.  If firm action had been taken earlier, offensive behaviour at football might have been stamped out, or at least significantly reduced."

11. "It is for the SFA and SPL to determine once and for all who has authority in relation to disciplinary issues concerning the supporters of SPL clubs.  We are dismayed that the two bodies do not appear to be close to resolving this issue at a time when clear leadership and effective joint working is badly needed.  We would expect this matter to be dealt with as a matter of urgency."

19. The Committee supports efforts to prevent harmful and inflammatory communications online and in other types of new media.

 
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