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

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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 ?

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[via] It seems that, as of the 1st June 2007, the 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... Read More

We were disappointed that last Friday's debate on the Commons Report stage of the Private Member's Bill, the Freedom of Information(Amendment) Bill did not result in a resounding vote of rejection by MPs. This Bill would, very controversially, exempt t... Read More

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I'm interested in writing a story about this in a London newspaper - can someone contact me please?

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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.

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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

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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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