The main legislation governing spectator safety at sports grounds in Northern Ireland is The Safety of Sports Grounds (NI) Order 2006 and Part 4 of the Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2011.
The Safety of Sports Grounds Order requires that operators of designated venues and smaller venues with stands with a capacity in excess of 500 obtain a safety certificate from the respective district council. The Department of Culture Arts and Leisure (DCAL) may designate a venue by regulations if it considers that it has a capacity in excess of 5,000. A statutory regulation (i.e. The Safety of Sports Grounds (Designation) (No 2) Order (NI) 2009) designating 30 sports grounds in Northern Ireland became operative on 31 December 2009. Download the current list of designated venues.
A safety certificate will state the safe capacity of the venue / parts of the venue and will contain terms and conditions to secure the reasonable safety of spectators. The safe capacity(s) and the terms and conditions will be based on the contents on the Northern Ireland Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds. The safe capacity(s) relate to the layout and condition of the structures of the venue – the ‘P’ factor, and the effectiveness of the safety management arrangements – the ‘S’ factor.
Part 4 of the Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 complements the Safety of Sports Grounds Order. It establishes a number of offences, penalties and police / court powers in relation to spectator conduct during the period of, and on certain transport to, regulated matches in Northern Ireland. Download the current list of matches regulated under the Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2011. The Act also provides for a Football Banning Order (FBO) system for those convicted of football related offences at regulated football matches in Northern Ireland.
Generally, the statutory period of a regulated match to which the in ground offences under the Justice Act and FBOs apply is beginning one hour before the start of the match or one hour before the time at which it is advertised to start, and ending 30 minutes after the end of the regulated match.