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News from Unmesh Desai: Football clubs urged to improve recording of hate crime

02 August 2019

Labour’s London Assembly Spokesperson for Policing and Crime, Unmesh Desai AM, has written letters to every football league club in London ahead of the new season, to address the low reporting rates of hate crime incidents on matchdays. Mr Desai has also called upon clubs to distance themselves from the “pernicious influence” of the ‘Democratic Football Lads Alliance’ (DFLA), who currently have active branches that have associated themselves with a number of London clubs. 

In these letters, Mr Desai highlights the issue of low reporting rates by pointing to evidence that he obtained through questions to the Mayor of London, which reveals that there were only 116 hate crime offences recorded across London’s football grounds between January 2015 and December 2018.

This follows on from a report published by the organisation, Kick it Out, which found that in the UK, half of all fans surveyed had witnessed racist abuse, but less than half are aware of how to report it.

Mr Desai’s letters also ask for information on the measures that clubs plan to put in place during the forthcoming football season to deter offences from taking place and ensure that fans are aware of how to report hate crimes on matchdays.

In addition, Mr Desai is calling upon clubs to issue statements publicly distancing themselves from the group known as the ‘DFLA’ who, he notes, have held rallies that “have been attended by well-known neo-Nazis and have featured definitively Islamophobic speeches”.

A number of prominent London football clubs’ crests appear on the DFLA’s official website, indicating there are branches of the organisation operating across the capital.

A report, published in April, by Faith Matters, has explored the connections between the DFLA and fringe political groups and organisations.

Labour’s London Assembly Spokesperson for Policing and Crime, Unmesh Desai AM, said:

“We have seen some shocking incidents over the last few years which sadly demonstrate that racism is on the rise in football once more, threatening to turn the beautiful game ugly.

“It is vital that clubs take proactive measures to root out the small minority of fans in their grounds seeking to peddle hate and racism on matchdays.

“Undeniably, football has a significant cultural influence on wider society. I want to work with clubs to make sure that this is a positive influence, and that all Londoners feel safe and welcome when supporting their team, without fear of intimidation or violence.

“The pernicious influence of divisive groups such as the DFLA cannot be left unchecked and football clubs should be taking the necessary actions to distance themselves from such organisations”.


Notes to editors

-    A copy of the letter can be found attached;

-    Freedom of Information (FOI) data on the IVF treatment offered by London CCGs can be found attached;

-    Unmesh Desai AM is the London Assembly Member for City and East

For more information please contact Research Support Officer, Nicholas Wilson, on 020 7983 4401. Number not for publication.

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