A sociological account of the introduction of the offensive behaviour at football and threatening communications (Scotland) act 2012 and how it was utilised by police officers in the Scottish football environment

  • Derek Whiteford

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis sets out a broad sociological narrative of the introduction of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communication (Scotland) Act 2012 and how it was implemented and utilised by the police in Scotland prior to its repeal in 2018. The legislation was introduced with some haste into a specific and significant popular Scottish cultural landscape where distinct and often competing social, political and cultural identities exist and where the phenomenon of "sectarianism", the legislation's primary target, is widely recognised but ill-defined and deeply contested.Lipsky's concept of Street Level Bureaucracy (SLBT), which argues that front line public-sector workers such as the police enjoy high levels of discretion and autonomy and so can actively create new policy through the reality of their interactions with members of the public, is utilised to examine and describe interactions between supporters and officers in this context and also to test the continued relevance of SLBT in such a setting.The thesis argues that SLBT remains relevant in describing police behaviours however whilst officers retain the ability to exercise high levels of discretion in the football environment this is influenced by temporal and spatial factors. In particular increased methods of surveillance such as CCTV has reduced the areas of "low visibility" where street level interactions occur, thereby decreasing the exercise of discretion by officers.Furthermore, whilst the research finds clear evidence of individual deviations from stated rules and regulations and that often what occurs in practice does not always reflect the intention of the higher commanders, particularly in relation to "Zero Tolerance" rhetoric, there is insufficient evidence to conclude that such behaviour of officers on the ground amounts to new "policy".
Date of Award16 May 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorNeil Hutton (Supervisor) & Claire McDiarmid (Supervisor)

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