Scottish Supporters Network

Hosted by Supporters Direct Scotland

Strengthening Scottish Football
SDS Logo

Your Match Day Rights – A Guide For Fans

Date: 29th September 2017

Words by Gavin Maclure

The purpose of this is to provide a balance guideline for supporters as to their rights on a match day.

On May 11th 2017 a code of practice for Officers conducting a stop and search procedure came into effect. As such, as football fans it is important for us to remember we have rights and responsibilities, as do Police officers. It is also important to consider why these measures are in place and why a Stop and Search may occur.

The aim of the new code is to apply consistency to current stop and search procedures and to ensure searches are conducted lawfully and that they are necessary and proportionate.

In accordance with law. That means in accordance with any legal duties imposed on constables, in particular under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010, as well as any requirements of the statute(s) under which the search is being conducted;


  • Necessary. That means that the search is required to locate a harmful item or

confirm the possession of an illegal item;


  • Proportionate, both in the decision to carry out a stop and search and in the

way in which a stop and search is conducted. In every case, a constable must

balance the rights of the individual against the perceived benefit of the search.

Principles of fairness, integrity, respect and accountability must also be upheld.

Stop and searches are conducted as an operational police tactic to ensure public safety and prevent disorder. The main purpose of policing is to improve the safety and wellbeing of persons, localities and communities. As football fans we should understand laws, how they work, and respect the communities in which we visit in attendance at matches. Contravention of this may result in consequences. Officers may stop and search an individual if they have reasonable grounds for suspicion that the person may be committing an offence. This must be based on current, relevant and accurate intelligence that the officer has at the time. There are exceptions based on behaviour, time and location. An officer must communicate to you what intelligence there is or these grounds for suspicion are and what they may be searching you for.
Officers cannot search you based solely on the grounds of gender, age, ethnicity or appearance. However where specific intelligence is available you can be stopped based on perceived affiliation or membership of a group. It remains though that objective suspicion of a crime or prevention thereof is in order.

“Personal factors alone can never support reasonable grounds for suspicion,” regards previous interactions, convictions or appearance.

There are instances where you may consent to a search or be more susceptible to one through your attendance at an event or consent to a search upon entry through your purchase of a ticket. It is advisable to check your clubs ground regulations and conditions or purchasing a ticket to avoid contravention of any such terms.

An officer may approach and instigate dialogue with any individual as means of engaging the person in order to eliminate the need for a stop and search but cannot approach an individual with the intention of seeking ground for a search. If grounds for a search arise then the individual must be notified and a search can take place using “reasonable force.” Reasons for the search cannot be given in hindsight or exclusively as a result of not answering questions. There is no obligation on an individual to provide any information about themselves and this should be communicated, though this information can be volunteered.

An officer can carry out a search if you are being detained and this must be communicated. They can search your person, what you are wearing, any bags you have or a vehicle you travelled in. Pockets can be searched and any garnment concealing identity can be removed though consideration for expression of identity rather than concealment is listed (please note that this is not considered standard procedure ie. Is operational in a certain area at a certain time to prevent violence). A search must be conducted in minimal time and on site or within a reasonable distance. Where a search does take place you are entitled to an officer’s name, ID and station where this does not reasonably compromise safety. You are not entitled to a copy of the search record if you do not provide your details.

This code of conduct does not impact upon existing legislation. Compliance with the law is vital in maintaining the principles and rights set out above.


Additional considerations are listed for children and vulnerable adults as well as religious grounds in some instances.

Full details can be found:

Posted in: Latest News