Echo comment: Aaron Calway case shows football banning orders don't work
"FOOTBALL banning orders work," trumpets the Home Office website.
"Banning orders are extremely successful," chirrups another page. "The orders work because they stop fans from doing the thing they love most – attending a football match."
Really? You'll excuse us if we choke on our half-time pies.
You only have to look at Aaron Cawley, the thug jailed yesterday for a sickening attack on Sheffield Wednesday keeper Chris Kirkland, to see what a nonsense they are.
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And here's why: they're about as effective as a chocolate teapot.
Courts continue to hand them out like sweets – 962 new ones were imposed in England and Wales in the two years to November 2011, taking the total number in place to 3,173.
But actually enforcing them is a whole different ball game, if you'll excuse the pun.
Cawley is one of 106 Leeds fans barred from games. In the Championship, only Cardiff City has a worse record.
But 5,300 Leeds supporters poured into Hillsborough's away end on Friday night. Including Cawley.
So how are the stewards supposed to know who is and who isn't allowed in? The simple answer is, they don't.
At somewhere like Cheltenham Town where just one fan is subject to one of these impotent orders, officials have a fighting chance of recognising him and chucking him out.
But when you've got up to 70,000 ticket holders streaming through the turnstiles, there's no hope of weeding out the hooligans. Needle in a haystack, anyone?
At the age of 16, Cawley was banned from every ground in the country for his part in a 200-strong riot.
He was also told not to travel on trains, or to and from any related city, on the days Leeds play.
By September last year, he'd breached it three times.
And the only reason police caught him the third time was because he was kicking off in the coffee shop at Cheltenham Spa railway station – with a match ticket in his pocket.
So what's the point?
What's the point of wasting police resources to gather evidence? What's the point in tying up the CPS? What's the point taking up court time to dish them out? It beats us.
"Breach of an order is a criminal offence and is punishable by a maximum sentence of six months in prison," says the Home Office site. "However, this is extremely rare."
You don't say? They have to catch them first.