Forums > Social Discussion > Consultation paper redrafting UK Protest Laws

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dream
SILVER Member since Jul 2003

dream

currently mending
Location: Bristol, New Zealand

Total posts: 493
Posted:The Home Office has recently published a consultation paper entitled 'Managing Protest.'

You can download a PDF of the paper here:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/documents/cons-2007-managing-protest

The link on their page will download the PDF without the correct file extension (and therefore need to be renamed after downloading, appending the missing '.pdf'

It sets out an argument for tightening the laws on public assembly (protests that aren't marches on a route) in the UK, so that handing out leaflets or organising any kind of public demo would require police permission prior to the event occurring.

This would effectively allows the police to control how, when and what we say when we are out on the streets, in public places, protesting. They could impose arbitrary limits on maximum numbers, maximum duration and act as political censors.


There is currently a public consultation period, where members of the British public can let the government know what they think of these proposed changes.

You can mail them at:
ProtestaroundParliament@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

frown


He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.

Nietzsche

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_Adam_
GOLD Member since Jan 2007

_Adam_

newbie
Location: Sendai City, Japan

Total posts: 35
Posted:WHAT?

That is ridiculous. No good can come of that.

Jeez, I leave the UK for 2 years and look what happens!


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The Tea Fairy
SILVER Member since Jul 2004

The Tea Fairy

old hand
Location: Behind you...

Total posts: 853
Posted:Umm, ok, maybe I read the paper wrong, but I think they're talking about the SOCAP act that was passed in 2005 and how it could be modified to make it more/less restrictive. SOCAP is specifically about protest assemblies around Parliament, not the whole of the UK (any kind of stationary protest near Parliament has been pretty much not allowed since 2005 anyway - this paper talks about possibly easing those restrictions and the possible consequences).

The reason they're talking about tightening restrictions for public assemblies in general ie making people give police advanced notice, is because these laws are already in place for marching demonstrations, they claim it's hard sometimes to define between a 'marching' protest and the movement of people to and from assembly points in static protests, from a police perspective, in terms of managing the possible risks to public order and safety.

In summary, I don't think it's all that sinister (although it's possible I'm being naive but I don't think I am), there are a fair few points in the documents about easing the restrictions of 2005 too. The government are currently going through a re-think on how they deal with 'voice' and campaign groups/protests in general, as a few of the more clever politicians have now realised that they can use protests and campaigns as a kind of gage of public opinion and which issues receive support, and then use this information to make their policies more popular.


Idolized by Aurinoko

Take me disappearing through the smoke rings of my mind....

Bob Dylan

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dream
SILVER Member since Jul 2003

dream

currently mending
Location: Bristol, New Zealand

Total posts: 493
Posted:Tea Fairy - Yes you've clearly misread the paper.

Section 1 - Public Protest the Legislative Framework begins by saying that the review of laws around parliament takes as its starting point the laws which apply to the rest of the country.
This Section comes before Section 2 - Protest in the vicinity of Parliament (which does what it says on the tin).

Although you do kind of pick on a side issue - the government was pressured into reviewing the 2005 law which restricted demonstrations around parliament by campaigns groups. Their response has been to look into the law - while simultaneously and subtly proposing to change the nationwide legislative framework for assemblies.

Far from presenting their case to the public the government have quietly added this in to a draft bill which most people think is only about parliament. If intelligent members of the community cannot discern what the report is about having read it, then I really don't think that the government is doing an adequate job of consulting the public about the freedoms they seek to restrict.

If this law is passed then if you have two people handing out leaflets publicising a cause on public property anywhere in the UK they would need to seek prior police permission, and can be told they will not be allowed to run their event.

If you organise any kind of stall/talk/flashmob/street theater/ - any political activity you can think of which involves more than two people getting together and doing something in a public place - then you will have to give the police notice, and they are legally allowed to ban your event - something which they do not currently have the power to do.

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The reason they're talking about tightening restrictions for public assemblies in general ie making people give police advanced notice, is because these laws are already in place for marching demonstrations, they claim it's hard sometimes to define between a 'marching' protest and the movement of people to and from assembly points in static protests, from a police perspective, in terms of managing the possible risks to public order and safety.



Nonsense. Marching protests generally shut down roads, usually around city centres, causing the police a large volume of work in redirecting traffic - this is the rationale behind making it compulsory to notify police of any pre-planned (ie not spontaneous) march. The same clearly cannot be said of the multitude of small assembly based political events. As the paper even states in section 1.12 - the organisers of most large scale assemblies will seek police guidance over health and safety etc - which suggests to me that it really isn't these events which concern the proposed change in the law. What will change however, is the ease with which people can organise small scale local campaigns based around a series of assemblies.


He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.

Nietzsche

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