A 15 year old Hull City fan, Louis Cooper, has instructed Lochlinn Parker of Deighton Pierce Glynn to challenge the restrictions put in place by West Yorkshire Police for the Huddersfield Town versus Hull City football match on 30 March 2013.
Louis says “The police have made it impossible for a lot of fans to go to the game. It has been done without consulting fans and doesn’t reflect what has happened at previous games. I travel from Manchester to home and away games and this will be the first away game I will miss this season. I have travelled to Beijing to watch Hull City and have done so without restrictions. I hope the police change their mind sooner rather than later.”
Lochlinn Parker has commented “Fans like Louis are baffled as to why the police have categorised this game at the highest risk level and placed restrictions on the free movement of fans. We believe the decision is unlawful and will be writing to the police shortly to ask them to drop the restrictions. We hope that they will but if not then we will be left with no alternative but to make an application for judicial review of the decision.”
Amanda Jacks, the Director of Case Work at the Football Supporters Federation has said “It is unusual for football fans to seek a remedy through the courts but on this occasion they seem to be left with no alternative. We have put Hull City fans in touch with Deighton Pierce Glynn as part of our on-going service to football fans. As with any case legal action is always a last resort and we sincerely hope WYP will drop these restrictions on ordinary law abiding people enabling them to travel to this match unimpeded.”
In their public announcements West Yorkshire Police have said that this match has been categorised at the highest level of risk (Category C – Increased Risk) and that due to the cost of policing the game they have imposed restrictions on away fans. They have said they are concerned at the prospect of away fans drinking in Huddersfield for the hours before the 5.20pm kick off.
The police are able to restrict the liberty of individuals where there is a genuine concern that disorder may occur. So called ‘bubble matches’, where away supporters are escorted by the police into and the out of football grounds, are considered lawful in situations of heightened tension between rival supporters that may lead to violence and the destruction of property.
Luke and many other fans cannot understand why the police have categorised this match as the highest risk possible. There is no historic rivalry between the clubs or the towns. The supporters of the clubs are some of the most well behaved fans in the championship. Of particular note is the fact that last season not a single Hull City fan was arrested for an alcohol related offence. Thirteen Huddersfield Town fans were arrested for the same kind of offence. In total Hull City had 14 fans, and Huddersfield 27 fans, arrested for all offences last season.