HC Deb 08 February 1984 vol 53 cc657-8W
60. Mr. David Atkinson

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what measures he is taking to combat violence associated with international soccer matches involving British teams.

Mr. MacFarlane

At a meeting of the informal working party—IWP—of Council of Europe Ministers with responsibility for sport in Paris in January 1983, I initiated a paper calling for concerted European action against violence associated with sport. My colleagues agreed that this was a European problem, not simply a British one. Subsequently a working group of the Council of Europe, chaired by one of my officials, was set up to draft recommendations on the topic.

The following meeting of the IWP in Rotterdam in November 1983 discussed the recommendation drafted by the working group.

The document referred to the need for co-operation and pre-match planning between public and football authorities; effective segregation of fans and control of ticket sales to achieve this; adequate policing; and appropriate sentencing of offenders, as well as many more technical matters. It endorsed the ground rules of the European Union of Football Association — UEFA —which was represented on the working party.

The November meeting welcomed the draft recommendation and recommended formal adoption by the Council of Europe of the proposals, subject to any necessary drafting changes to accommodate national, legal and administrative conditions. My colleagues and I agreed immediately to seek to implement the proposals in our own countries, and for international matches. I have placed in the Library a copy of the declaration — MSL — GT 10(83)DR1—made at the meeting, which was closely based on a draft which I had prepared.

The proposals of the recommendation have been followed in planning for the France v. England soccer match in Paris on 29 February. Meetings have already been held between the English and French football authorities and the French police, together with staff of the British embassy, and agreement reached on the points identified in the recommendation. I am writing to my French colleague asking her to ensure that the precautions laid down there are implemented. This procedure follows the pattern begun in 1981 in preparation for the World Cup, and general contact by my officials with relevant authorities in other countries is now well established.