"Catch all" Serious Crime Act 2007 amendment to SOCPA 2005 section 136 Designated Area around Parliament criminal penalties - aimed at this website ?

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There is an amendment to the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 buried deep within a Schedule (see pages 85 and 86 out of 150 pages) of the Serious Crime Act 2007 (.pdf version, the HTML one is not yet online), which has now received its Royal Assent and is now the law, although it has not just yet been brought into force.

This is a further tightening of the screws on dissent and protests against the unpopular Labour government in the far too large Designated Area around Parliament.

The equally unpopular Opposition parties have failed in their duty of holding the Government to account, by not bothering to scrutinise this amendment in detail, let alone to reject it entirely, as they should have done.

Who exactly are the Labour political appartachiki hoping to catch under this amended legislation, who they have not been able to legally threaten, harass and intimidate under the previous version of this unpopular and repressive law ?

We fear that this catch all amendment seeks to criminalise websites like this one, and other internet based supporters of the the right to peaceful protest around Parliament and beyond,

We have never advocated breaking the law, evil as it is, but this "catch all" amendment will easily be enough to threaten us or our internet service providers etc. with arrest, DNA sampling, fingerprinting, seizure of computers etc, even if no actual charges are brought.

When this Schedule comes into force, we may have to suspend this ParliamentProtest.org.uk website.

The amendment:

Serious Crime Act 2007 (c. 27) Schedule 6 - Minor and consequential amendments: Part 2 Part 2 - Other minor and consequential amendments

Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (c. 15)

64 (1) The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 is amended as follows.

(2) In section 136 (penalties in relation to demonstrations in the vicinity of Parliament) for subsection (4) substitute--

    "(4) A person who is guilty of an offence under section 44 or 45 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 in relation to which an offence mentioned in subsection (1), (2) or (3) is the anticipated offence (as defined by section 47(9) of that Act) is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks, to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale or to both.

Level 4 on the standard scale is currently a fine of £2500

    (4A) If a person is guilty of an offence under section 46 of that Act by reference to an offence mentioned in subsection (1), (2) or (3), the maximum term of imprisonment applicable for the purposes of section 58(6) of that Act to the offence so mentioned is a term not exceeding 51 weeks."

Sections 44, 45 and 46 of this Serious Crimes Act 2007 seem to further extend and widen the catch all nature of existing inchoate offences:



Inchoate offences

44 Intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence

(1) A person commits an offence if--

    (a) he does an act capable of encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence; and
    (b) he intends to encourage or assist its commission.

(2) But he is not to be taken to have intended to encourage or assist the commission of an offence merely because such encouragement or assistance was a foreseeable consequence of his act.

45 Encouraging or assisting an offence believing it will be committed

A person commits an offence if--

    (a) he does an act capable of encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence; and
    (b) he believes--
      (i) that the offence will be committed; and
      (ii) that his act will encourage or assist its commission.

46 Encouraging or assisting offences believing one or more will be committed

(1) A person commits an offence if--

    (a) he does an act capable of encouraging or assisting the commission of one or more of a number of offences; and
    (b) he believes--
      (i) that one or more of those offences will be committed (but has no belief as to which); and
      (ii) that his act will encourage or assist the commission of one or more of them.

Criminalising anything and everything which is "capable of encouraging or assisting" is hugely catch all and far too broad wording to be just - this applies to all of the criminal offences mentioned in this repressive legislation, not just the SOCPA section 132 offences.

  • What exactly does Section 44 (2) mean by "merely because such encouragement or assistance was a foreseeable consequence of his act" ?

  • How exactly does the prosecution establish "belief" ?

  • How does a defendant defend themselves against an accusation of "belief" ?

  • In terms of the restrictions on freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom to protest around Parliament, were is the dividing line between the offence of "organising" a demonstration without prior written permission from the Police (see SOCPA section 132 (1) (a)), and inchoately "encouraging or assisiting" one ?

  • How much will this all cost to enforce ?

We will not be surprised if this Schedule of the Serious Crime Act 2007 is Commenced by Order and and brought into force before the Government has bothered to respond to the public consultation on Managing Protest Around Parliament

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Campaign Button Links

NO2ID  Campaign
NO2ID - opposition to the Home Office's Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

link to www.peopleincommon.org

People in Common - weekly Picnics etc. in Parliament Square, every Sunday at about 1pm.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

Campaign for the Freedom of Information

Please help us to find this man! He was arrested(?) in Parliament Square on 1st August 2005

This man was one of the very first people arrested in Parliament Square on 1st August 2005, but he has apparently disappeared.

link to SilentProtest.org.uk
Silent Protest - a web photo gallery "encouraging people to stage a virtual, government un-sanctioned protest. All you need to do is get a picture of yourself, or your friends, within the protest free zone. Assume the pose (hand over mouth), aim and click."

. repeal-SOCPA.info - 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.

Email Contact

Please feel free to email us your news, views or suggestions about this blog, and about the issues it highlights.

info @ParliamentProtest [dot] org [dot].uk

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A low volume e-mail list (with a daily digest option) has been set up for those of you who /want to share ideas about how the restrictions on demonstrations without prior written permission etc. can be resisted legally and peacefully:

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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@ homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk 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 PeopleInCommon.org

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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