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March 31, 2007

"Mark Thomas: My Life in Serious Organised Crime" - BBC Radio 4

Comedian Mark Thomas has broadcast (on Thursday 29th March 2007) some of his surreal and record breaking experiences, in trying to protest against the literally ridiculous Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond.

The Labour Government should never have exposed the Metropolitan Police and the legal system to such absurdity with this freedom destroying legislation and bureaucratic incompetence.

Read about his half hour programme "Mark Thomas:My Life in Serious Organised Crime", and some of the listener's comments.

Listen to the programme via the internet via the BBC Listen Again archive (needs Real Player).

March 28, 2007

Palace of Westminster and Portcullis House now Designated under SOCPA Section 128 - even the previously public areas !

Home Office Minister Tony "not fit for purpose" McNulty has signed Statutory Instrument 2007 No. 930 - The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Designated Sites under Section 128) Order 2007 which comes into force on 1st June 2007.

This "designates" some more sites, under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Section 128

Most controversially this now "designates" the entire Palace of Westminster and Portcullis House office buildings, crucially, even the formerly public access areas such the Central Lobby or the Committee Rooms.

It is intolerable for any Police officer and / or the Attorney General to have the power of arrest and prosecution on a charge which could lead to up to 51 weeks in prison in these particular areas, threatneing and chilling the democratic right of constituents. to meet and lobby their Members of Parliament, or to listen to the proceedings of Select Committees etc.

Designating the exterior of the building and the private office spaces and the Chambers of Parliament seems fair enough, but not the public areas. There are plenty of other existing laws to deal with "disturbing the peace" or any threats of actual violence etc which apply to these areas, it is typical of the Labour Government control freaks like Tony McNulty and his boss John Reid, to ineptly further restrict our democratic freedoms to assemble and protest and lobby democratically and peacefully.


Members of Parliament seemed to have not understood that these public areas of Parliament itself are already curtailed, under Section 132 of the same Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, since the Palace of Westminster is within the Designated Area around Parliament Square, which includes:

Section 132 (7)

(b) "public place" means any highway or any place to which at the material time the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission,

Now it appears that you can be arrested,on the whim of a Police officer, inside Parliament both under Section 128 and Section 132 of the Act.

Under Section 128, it is your mere presence within the Designated Site which now surrounds the formerly public areas inside the Parliament buildings, which is criminalised, even if you are not actually protesting or demonstrating, and even if you leave when requested to do so.

The new criminal offence of "Offence of trespassing on designated site" is entirely separate from that of criminal trespass, or the civil common law offence of trespass.

Section 128 is so badly written, that there actually no exemptions, even for the owners of the Designated Sites themselves i.e. the Crown, the Duchy of Cornwall, the UK Military, the UK Government, Parliament and the operators of nuclear power stations etc.
Their only right under Section 128, is to grant permission in respect to the display of warning notices around the periphery of the site.

Other buildings within the existing Designated Area under Section 133, are also now designated under Section 128 namely: 9, 10, 11 and 12 Downing Street and the main at 70 Whitehall,


Also designated are the Old War Office Building and the new main Ministry of Defence buildings, and the MI5 Security Service and Northern Ireland Office building Thames House on Millbank.

The Secret Intelligence Service MI6 building at Vauxhall Cross is outside the current Designated Area,and part of it is just inside the theoretical "not more than 1 kilometre in a straight line from the nearest point in Parliament Square" criterion, but 85 Albert Embankment is now designated under Section 128.

Neither the Foreign Office, nor the Treasury nor Admiralty House etc. in Whitehall are Designated, and neither is DEFRA, the scene of various Greenpeace protests.

Previously this list of designated sites were all military bases. This has now been extended to include some but not all of the Royal Residences and Palaces i.e. Buckingham Palace, St James' Palace and Clarence House, Sandringham House, Windsor Castle (including the massive Windsor Castle Home Park) and Prince Charles' estate at Highgrove House.

Not included are Balmoral Castle, Holyroodhouse , Kensington Palace, or Hampton Court etc.

GCHQ now has both sites in Cheltenham, the one in Scarborough and Bude are now designated.

The Prime Minister's country estate at Chequers in Buckinghamshire is now designated, although, this does not, according to the legislation, apply to the public rights of way which cross part of the estate, such as the Icnield Way Riders Route bridlepath and The Ridgeway country walk footpath.

For some reason the Deputy Prime Minister's / Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Foreign Secretaries country residences are not designated.

During the the debates on the extension to Section 128 brought in by the Terrorism Act 2006 Section 12, Parliament was assured that there would be adequate warning signs of the periphery of "civil nuclear" and other designated sites. It remains to be seen if this will happen with the various listed buildings in Whitehall and Parliament.

    Temporary Autonomous Zones ?

Strangely, the steps and entrance archway to the Thames House, MI5 building are specifically excluded from designation under this Section 128 order, and since they are not "pavement or highway" either, they are, presumably, not covered under Section 132.

the site does not include the steps that give access to the inside of the building;

Similarly, the main Ministry of Defence building also has an exclusion under the Section 128 designation order:

(ii) the site does not include the steps, ramps and portico that give access to the inside of the building;

So does the Old War Office Building:

but the site does not include the steps that give access to the inside of the building;

These buildings are all within the current, badly defined Section 132 Designated Area as set out in Statutory Instrument 2005 No. 1537 The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005

Depending on the accuracy of your map, only the edge of the Security Service MI6 building at Vauxhall Cross nearest to Parliament is within the theoretical maximum

(3) No point in the area so specified may be more than one kilometre in a straight line from the point nearest to it in Parliament Square.

set down in law by Section 138

However, the Section 128 order only designates this building, 85 Albert Embankment, and its curtilage i.e. boundary walls and railings, therefore the riverside terrace walkway public right of way is not included, and the Vauxhall Bridge and Albert Embankment pavements are outside the 1 kilometre zone.

Similarly the 1 kilometre theoretical extent of the Designated Area reaches up to the front gates of Buckingham Palace, which is now designated along with its curtilage i.e. boundary walls and railings.

Could these areas effectively turn out to be small Temporary Autonomous Zones, offering a bit of shelter from inclement weather, for protesters within the Designated Area ? Will they be too intimidated to find out ?

March 2, 2007

Red Nose Day and the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond

Click here to find out how to avoid arrest on Red Nose Day

Tim Ireland from Bloggerheads warns about Red Nose Day on Friday 16th March 2007:

This is the first Red Nose Day to take place since the introduction of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

It is now illegal for you to wear a red nose or promote Red Nose Day in any way within the designated area surrounding Parliament if you do not first seek permission from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

Simply wearing a red nose could result in a fine of £1,000.

Organising a Red Nose Day event that takes place within the designated area could result in a fine of £2,500 and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks.

No, I am not pulling your leg.

Click on the image links to see Tim's advice.

Click here to find out how to avoid arrest on Red Nose Day