Scottish football travel rules shake-up consulted over
**The below consultation has been halted – read the Senior Traffic Commissioner’s statement here **
A consultation is being held on introducing new football match transport guidelines in Scotland, bringing the country in line with those in place in England and Wales.
The changes, proposed and consulted over by the Office of the Traffic Commissioners (OTC), have met with some concern from Scottish football organisations.
The proposed guidelines are:
- PSV operators taking bookings from groups of supporters are to notify the relevant Dedicated Football Officer (DFO), at least 48 hours before the event, of the number of supporters expected to travel, the number of vehicles booked, the name and the contact number for the person who made the booking. Once available the operator must also notify the VRM and driver’s name to the relevant Dedicated Football Officer. For the purpose of these guidelines, the relevant Dedicated Football Officer means the DFO for the club that the fans are travelling to support.
- Vehicles are not to stop within ten miles of the venue either en route to, or on departure from the event unless prior agreement is obtained from the relevant Dedicated Football Officer.
- Unless directed by a police officer, PSVs may stop at premises where intoxicating liquor is sold only if it is sold ancillary to a substantial meal. Prior agreement for meal stops where alcohol is available should be sought from the operator’s relevant Dedicated Football Officer.
- PSVs are to arrive at the venue no earlier than two hours before and not later than one hour before the scheduled start of the game, unless otherwise directed by police.
- PSVs are not to set down or uplift passengers at any unauthorised locations without prior permission of the police.
- PSVs must leave the venue within 30 minutes of the finish of the event, unless directed otherwise by a police officer or ground safety officer.
- PSV operators are to follow all reasonable instruction given by police or enforcement officers at all times. This includes, but is not limited to, routing and stopping arrangements.
- Intoxicating liquor, flares and similar pyrotechnics, must not be carried on PSVs travelling to or from designated grounds. Operators will draw hirers’ attention to the requirements of the law, and drivers shall, as far as reasonably practical, supervise boarding passengers and check that they are not obviously carrying intoxicating alcohol, flares and similar pyrotechnics. Drivers will not be expected to carry out baggage or body searches, nor will they be expected to confiscate alcohol or to remove passengers without police assistance. Operators may add a condition of entry to the PSV that a voluntary search may be undertaken.
- PSV operators are to notify the Dedicated Football Officer at the destination upon arrival at an away football ground, of any chanting demonstrating hostility based on race, ethnicity religion or beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, and transgender identity or chanting of an otherwise grossly offensive or inflammatory nature which had taken place during the journey to the ground.
- PSV operators are to have established safeguarding policies when carrying persons under the age of 18-years-old. This is to include arrangements for the nomination of at least one responsible adult for the minors carried.
The consultation notes that the majority of football fans are law-abiding and do not cause any disturbances when travelling. However, the consultation announcement has caused some concern.
A joint statement issued on behalf of the Scottish FA, Scottish Professional Football League and Scottish Women’s Premier League said: “There’s no evidence that this is a significant problem in Scottish football. We are concerned by the targeted nature of these proposals, which serve to demonise football fans and interfere unnecessarily in people’s lives.
“In Scotland, there are already appropriate powers held by PHV operators, Police Scotland and other partners to deal effectively with a very small number of incidents by a minority of fans.
“The consultation itself notes that the majority of football fans are law-abiding and do not cause any disturbances when travelling to or from games, yet these proposals would unfairly affect the vast majority of football fans who travel safely and respectfully to and from matches on a weekly basis.
“We don’t support these unnecessary and heavy-handed proposals and we will be making our views clear in the consultation.”
Peter Bradley, Managing Director of the UKCOA, said: “We welcome the consultation from the Senior Traffic Commissioner, as it gives the chance for those impacted to have their say. On the face of it, this is a logical move to harmonise the requirements for transporting football fans across Great Britain, rather than having separate arrangements for Scotland. However we will be engaging with our membership, and especially those members located in or close to Scotland, to ensure that we represent their views in our final response.”
- The consultation will run until 24 November 2023 and can be responded to here