Is the SOCPA Designated Area actually bigger than we have assumed ?

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Tim Ireland has an interesting posting on Bloggerheads, which suggests that he might also be at risk of being considered an "organiser" of a demonstration without prior written approval, by "beating the bounds" around the Desgnated Area.

The other interesting question that Tim raises is that of the exact extent of the Designated Area, given the imprecise wording of Statutory Instrument 2005 No. 1537 The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Designated Area) Order 2005

(2) Subject to paragraph (3), references in paragraph (1) to a named street or other highway include the pavements adjoining that street or other highway on the extremity of the designated area.

(3) The pavements in Trafalgar Square are not included in the designated area."

It is this Statutory Instrument which is the legal definition of the extent of the Designated Area, and not any map produced by the Metropolitan Police

Tim suggests that the side roads which cross the boundary of the Designated Area described in the Statutory Instrument are also included:

Also, if you're thinking of standing in a side street, think again; the Act is worded so clumsily (or cleverly, depending on your point of view) that the exclusion zone can actually be interpreted to include the pavements on any adjoining highway at the extremity of the perimeter and/or that entire highway itself. The whole perimeter is - effectively - another city-block wider... potentially with tendrils extending far beyond that (though , as it says here, for no more than "one kilometre in a straight line from the point nearest to it in Parliament Square").

We do not quite agree with this, interpretation, but it did get us thinking that the typically Home Office "catch all" wording does actually mean that any of the "named streets" which the Statutory Instrument description of the extremity of the Designated Area mentions include the "pavements adjacent" as well.

This wording seems to apply to the entire pavement in the "named street", over its entire length, even the part of the street heading away from the direction of Parliament Sqiare, provided that no point is ""more than one kilometre in a straight line from the point nearest to it in Parliament Square"

There are several "named streets" which extend beyond the apparent line of the boundary of the Designated Area, but whose entire "adjacent pavements" could also be interpreted as being within the Designated Area.

If this were not so, then there would have been no need to specifically exempt the pavements of Trafalgar Square.

Refer to this map of the streets around Parliament Square

Some of these streets extend to a distance beyond "one kilometre in a straight line from the point nearest to it in Parliament Square"

  1. "starting at the point where Hungerford Bridge crosses Victoria Embankment, "

    Victoria Embankment north of this point. About halfway between Cleopatra's Needle and Hungerford Bridge appears to be no more than "one kilometre in a straight line from the point nearest to it in Parliament Square"

  2. "along Hungerford Bridge to the point where it crosses Belvedere Road, rightwards along Belvedere Road as far as Chicheley Street"

    Leftwards (i.e. north) along Belvedere Road underneath Westminster Bridge to the Hayward Gallery where it becomes Upper Ground

  3. "leftwards along Chicheley Street as far as York Road, rightwards along York Road"

    Leftwards (i.e. north) along York Road as far as the IMax cinema roundabout far as the corner with Concert Hall Approach at the north west of York Road and the corner with Mepham Street on the north east of York Road

  4. "rightwards along York Road, crossing Westminster Bridge Road into Lambeth Palace Road,"

    Westminster Bridge Road stretches eastwards from the roundbout at the end of Westminster Bridge, for a considerable distance, past Lambeth North Tube Station to St. Georges Circus

    The 1 kilometre limit means that the St. Georges Circus end of Westminster Bridge Road is outside the Designated Area. However the western corner of the junction with Kennington Road and Wetminster Bridge Road is within, and perhaps also the pavement outside Lambeth North Tube Station itself (depending on from exactly where the 1km from Parliament Square is measured)

  5. "over Lambeth Bridge, leftwards along Millbank as far as Thorney Street"

    Millbank extends southwards from Thorney Street towards Vauxhall Bridge. The 1 km from Parliament Square.would just encompasss Millbank pavements as far as the Tate Gallery.

  6. "along Strutton Ground crossing over Victoria Street into Broadway"

    Victoria Street westwards as far as Ambrosden Avenue and the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral which appears to be not "more than one kilometre in a straight line from the point nearest to it in Parliament Square"

  7. "along Queen Anne's Gate as far as Birdcage Walk, rightwards along Birdcage Walk as far as Horse Guards Road"

    Does Queen Anne's Gate actually connect with Birdcage Walk ?
    see the detailed Westminster Council planning applications map

    That would either make Queen Anne's Gate into an unusual "T shaped" road, or it would mean that there is a gap in the Designated Area boundary.

    Birdcage Walk westwards from Queen Anne's Gate towards Buckingham Palace just beyond Spur Road. The corner of Birdcage Walk and Buckingham Gate appears to be just a bit "more than one kilometre in a straight line from the point nearest to it in Parliament Square"

  8. "along Horse Guards Road as far as the Mall, rightwards along the Mall"

    Leftwards along the Mall, westward towards Buckingham Palace from Horse Guards Road to Spur Road.

However, we think that Tim may not actually be charged with "Organising" his "beating the bounds" walk, around the apparent perimeter of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Designated Area, if he was on his own.

132 (7) "(d) references to any person organising a demonstration do not include a person carrying on a demonstration by himself,"

However, obviously as an "organiser" of the Carol Service, that exemption would not apply.

It appears to us that under the wording of SOCPA, an "organiser" could be arrested, even if they have never actually set foot within the Designated Area.

Worryingly for anyone who has helped to publicise any of the events within any "public place" within the Desginated Area,

132 (7) "(c) references to any person organising a demonstration include a person participating in its organisation,"

Does that include journalists and the media who give advance notice of the event ?

Does that include us ?

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. - useful background briefings for the Managing Protest around Parliament public consultation, and model letters to MPs etc.

About this blog

This web blog has been set up as an information resource and discussion area (please be polite in the comments) to help organise resistance to the restrictions on peaceful democratic demonstrations and protests, which have been enacted by law, in a wide Designated Area around Parliament Square in London.

It appears that in order to remove the peace protester Brian Haw, who has now been demonstrating continuously in Parliament Square, day and night, for over 5 6 years, the NuLabour Government have overreacted, and have granted themselves draconian and arbitrary powers, which affect the rights of all individual British citizens to lobby their Members of Parliament, or to walk in a vast Designated Area wearing a "political slogan" T-shirt, badge, rubber wristband etc. without first seeking prior written permission from the Police.

This is an affront to democracy and is not justified even on any spurious "climate of fear" alleged "security" grounds.

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Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005

The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 was rushed through, "on the nod", with minimal debate, during the undemocratic "wash up" process at the end of the last Parliament when the General Election had been called.

The bulk of the Act deals with the setting up of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, but there are also sections such as:

Section 110 Powers of Arrest

From 1st January 2006 this section makes any offence, no matter how minor, into an arrestable offence. Arrests by the police these days can mean taking 10 fingerprints and two palm prints, a DNA tissue sample and processing it into a digital "DNA fingerprint", forcing you to remove any facial coverings, (even those worn for religous purposes) to take photographs of your face etc. All of these items of personal data can then be retained forever, even if you are not charged, or any charges against you are dropped, or if you go to court and are found not guilty.

These new powers are regulated by the new statutory Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) Code of Practice G (.pdf)

Section 128 Trespass on a Designated Site - e.g. Crown Property or National Security

Sections 132 to 138 Demonstrations in the vicinity of Parliament - the controversial restrictions in detail.

The Public Whip website has details of how the Members of the House of Commons voted on these controversial clauses.

Designated Area

The current Designated Area is set out in: Statutory Instrument 2005 No. 1537 The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Designated Area) Order 2005

Read more about the Designated Area in our category archive.

Write to politicians

Write To Them - identify and contact your local councillors, Members of Parliament, devolved Assembly members and Members of the European Parliament

You can also write to the Home Secretary David Blunkett Charles Clarke John Reid Jacqui Smith

You can send an email public.enquiries@ or a letter to:

Rt. Hon. Jacqui Smith MP
Home Secretary
c/o Direct Communications Unit
Home Office
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF

Home Office Contact Us page

Mass Lone Demonstrations

Comedian Mark Thomas's website has details of Mass Lone Demonstrations which legally show up the absurdity of this law, and the bureaucracy involved in enforcing it. These multiple independent one person demonstrations take place on the third Wednesday of the month, from 5pm - 7.30pm within the Designated Area (often in Parliament Square, but not exclusively so)

Meet on the second Wednesday of each month outside Charing Cross police station (located at Agar Street, London, WC2N 4JP - see the map) any time between: 5.30 pm -7.30pm to hand in your Metropolitan Police SOCPA forms (download the optional Word or PDF forms from the Metroplitan Police) or your own personal Written Applications for Prior Permission.

Regular Protests in Parliament Square

Parliament Square - supporting the long running, 24/7, peace protest by Brian Haw in Parliament Square

Global Women's Strike who held "open mike" loudspeaker protests every Wednesday for over two and a half years, which are now banned.

London Critical Mass - group bicycle ride on the last Friday of every month, for the last 10 years, which often strays into the Designated Area.

The People's Commons Meeting / Tea Party / Picnic-Protest is now meeting every Sunday afternoon starting at 1 for 1.30pm on the Green in Parliament Square. wiki - new website

Website Links

Home Office - "Not fit for purpose. It is inadequate in terms of its scope, it is inadequate in terms of its information technology, leadership, management, systems and processes" - Home Secretary John Reid. 23rd May 2006.

Metropolitan Police Service

Metropolitan Police Authority - meant democratically to supervise the Metropolitan Police Service

Independent Police Complaints Commission

United Kingdom Parliament - Palace of Westminster, House of Lords, House of Commons etc.

Booking Parliament Square - Greater London Authority booking forms, terms and conditions for filming and photography for Parliament Square - "The GLA does not grant permission for demonstration, rallies and public meetings on Parliament Square Gardens".

They Work For You - a more user friendly version of the House of Commons Hansard

Pledgebank pledge:

"I will form part of a human chain around the Westminster no protest zone but only if 6,000 other people will join in."

Repeal-SOCPA-Info has useful briefing material for the Public Consultation into the laws restricting demonstrations, marches and assemblies, sample letters to MPs etc..

Blog Links

Spy Blog - Privacy and Security and Civil liberties campaigning

Mayor of London Blog - unnofficial comments on the Mayor of London and Greater London Assembly

Fuel Crisis Blog - Petrol at £1 per litre ! Protest !

Bloggerheads graphics of the 1km zone and the actual Designated Area

Charity Sweet - who has been harrassed for reading a copy of the Independent newspaper outside Downing Street etc.

BBC Travel Jam Cams

BBC Radio London has some links to Traffic Monitoring CCTV cameras, which they publish every 5 or 10 minutes, not usually in real time.

Whenever there is an "incident" or a march or demonstration, these online images are deliverately censored i.e. "not available for operational reasons", This is despite the images being of too low a resolution to identify anybody, and, the effect of not diverting traffic away from the incident, which should be the whole point of the online Traffic Cam images in the first place.

Whitehall / Parliament Square - this camera view sometimes shows Brian Haw's peace camp, and the new GLA fence around Parliament Square Gardens. (now removed, for the time being)

Northumberland Avenue / Victoria Embankment

Trafalgar Square (on the edge of the Designated Area)


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