Hocus FoCUS Strike Again
My name is Chris and I’m a Celtic fan in public service in my mid twenties. I have no criminal record and my only experience of dealing with the Police is at football matches when cameras are routinely put in my face simply because I want to watch and support my team.
I was arrested in January as I came through passport control at Glasgow Airport. Cuffed and dragged out by four police officers in front of several hundred travellers and my crying girlfriend. My supposed crime was that I allegedly held up a satirical banner shown at a pre season friendly match between Celtic and English premiership side Norwich. I still to this day don’t know if I did or not as no evidence was ever shown to me. I do however know that the charge was absolutely ludicrous and the Procurator Fiscal obviously agreed as this case was dropped before I was required to appear at court.
I am involved in the campaign against criminalisation and a couple of fan groups at Celtic. It seems that I was singled out for this treatment because of that. I asked one of the Police officers why they choose to arrest me so publically in the airport, embarrassing my family. I was told it was because I had recently moved address and they didn’t know where I now lived. The officer didn’t respond when I said they knew where I stood at matches and no doubt where I drank and how I got to the games.
I was then taken to Govan Police station where I was eventually un-cuffed. In the three hours I sat in the police cell all I could think about was my arrest at the airport and how it was nothing more than harassment and an attempt to humiliate me. I was charged under the Offensive behaviour at football act and released from custody late at night with a court date set for February.
I never had to go to court as my case was dropped within weeks. In that respect I was much more fortunate than many of my fellow fans who have to attend court on multiple occasions and have cases and bans from matches hanging over them for months and beyond. However even in those few weeks it’s difficult not to think of the impact a court case and a possible conviction might have on your life. I work with vulnerable adults and a conviction for football related offenses in the current climate would see me lose my job and I would struggle to find another to provide for my family.
With football fans being demonised by the SNP Government particularly when they falsely claim the act is about anti sectarianism and tackling bigotry clearly having a court case hanging over me could seriously harm my career. From the recent statistics which showed only sex crimes have more conviction rates have lower conviction rates it’s clear that a lot of fans will go through the hassle of going to court, only to be found not guilty. It’s also clear that many of the conviction rates are based on guilty pleas as people like me want to avoid their employers finding out or the hassle and expense of defending yourself against charges under the act.
Almost all fans like myself would not be near a police station or a court room if FoCUS wasn’t in their faces at football matches and football fans had not been criminalised by the SNP.
Chris’s statement was transcribed from an audio recording I made at the FAC press conference. It is a correct representation to the best of my knowledge.
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