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The Gestapo Are Coming?

By: Lee Owen (Millwall Site)
Date: 21/01/2004

THE Sun claims that soccer fans face being fined up to £80 by stewards for yobbish behaviour at games. Clubs will be able to get special accreditation for officials so they can dish out fixed penalties.

The fines will apply to a string of offences - including £80 for causing harassment, alarm or distress. Adults who buy alcohol for under-18s could be hit with a £40 fine.

The fines will apply to a string of offences - including £80 for causing harassment, alarm or distress. Adults who buy alcohol for under-18s could be hit with a £40 fine.

Supporters drinking in a designated public place near a ground could be fined £40, while yobs who throw fireworks face an £80 penalty. The move is part of Home Secretary David Blunkett's Anti-Social Behaviour Act, which became law yesterday. Chief constables will allow club stewards and private security guards to issue the fines from March 31. They will decide which fines such accredited officials can issue. But only police officers will be able to fine people for being drunk and disorderly.

Stewards can call the police as back-up if people will not give their names. Fans who fail to pay within 21 days will get a written demand and could then be taken to court if they still do not comply. A Home Office spokesman said: "We see accreditation as an important way of harnessing the energy and commitment of private employers such as those who patrol shopping malls and town centres or supervise crowds in sports stadia."

But football fans' representatives expressed alarm at the move. Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters' Federation, said: "Our fear would be that fans would be fined unjustly by inexperienced or unqualified stewards." The Home Office stressed that chief constables would only give the powers to stewards they believe are fit to dish out fines.

However the Tories attacked the move and blasted ministers for giving traffic wardens, binmen and other council workers sweeping new powers to fine people up to £80 for road offences, £50 for dropping litter and £100 for other offences. Shadow Home Secretary David Davis fumed: "Last week it was traffic wardens, this week security guards and football stewards. What next? Lollipop ladies? "David Blunkett must be crazy to give the power to levy fines to these people.

"Under Labour, law-abiding citizens will not be able to step outside their front door without a fine before long." But Mr Blunkett defended the massive crackdown He said: "Those who are causing misery to other people can expect to be jumped on like a ton of bricks." Meanwhile, taxpayers are forking out £200,000 for every young thug who is locked up, a bombshell report reveals today. One in four kids aged ten to 17 commit at least one crime every year.

And a hardcore of young tearaways are each responsible for mini-crime waves. Around 7,500 are sentenced to custody each year. They are estimated to cost the taxpayer an astonishing £1.5billion by the time they are 16 - NOT including the massive costs of their crimes.

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