February 12, 2008

Home Office FOIA disclosure listing the arrests and demonstration statistics in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square

Julian Todd has published the results of his Freedom of Information Act request, which lists most of the Applications for Prior Written Permission and the arrests under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2000, Sections 132 to 138.

As he points out in this blog entry,

Criminalising Protest around Parliament

this information should have been included in the now closed Public Consultation document on reforming these wretched restrictions on our freedom. The fact that they were not either points to ineptitude or deliberate deceit and political manipulation.

See the 31 scanned pages of statistics

October 23, 2006

Brian Haw arrested again, and guntoting policemen making political decisions about T-shirt slogans.

Indymedia have details of Yet Another Arrest of Brian Haw, the long term peace protestor in Parliament Square,

This time there seems to have been some woman attacking his banners and signs at 5 am in the morning.

Mysteriously Brian Haw got arrested, and some of his display seized as "evidence", despite the fact the the woman attacker was released after being cautioned.

It also appears that the police threatened people trying to take photos with arrest, although there is absolutely no law which forbids such photography.

There is also an eyewitness account by a public relations manager who saw guntoting policemen making a political decision about the slogan on a T-shirt, in the entrance foyer of Portcullis House.

Neither of these case involve the Seious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Designated Area per se (although they are both areas specifically coverd by the Designated Area) , but older Public Order legislation, but they do seem show how stupid it is to let individual Policemen make such arbitrary decisions.

There needs to be a member of the public who makes an official complaint to the police about the public display of something which might cause distress or offence. It is not for individual Police Constables to do this off their own bat.

August 21, 2006

5 arrests at the Foreign Office, but NOT under the SOCPA Designated Area law

The Guardian reports 5 arrests during today's "blockade" of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

Five arrested in 'blockade' of Foreign Office

Matthew Tempest, political correspondent
Monday August 21, 2006
Guardian Unlimited

Five demonstrators were arrested this morning after staging a two-hour "blockade" of the Foreign Office in protest against the government's stance over the Israel-Lebanon conflict.

Up to 50 peace activists attempted to prevent workers from entering the Whitehall department, protesting under the banner "Blood on your desks".

They also spilt fake blood, resulting in the arrests, which were on suspicion of causing a criminal damage.

Not quite a violent protest, but no longer simply a peaceful one, if the demonstrators laid themselves open to being arrested for criminal damage.

It was unauthorised under the Serious Organised Crime Act, which requires demonstrators to seek Metropolitan police permission in advance before staging demonstrations within 1km (0.6 miles) of parliament.

The tireless rikki reports via Indymedia - the comment thread illustrates some of the problems which affect "peace" demonstrations, and their exploitation by various groups with their own agendas.

The Government spin doctors must be laughing.

July 21, 2006

Official number of arrests since 1st August 2005 in the SOCPA Designated Are

Commons Hansard 20 July 2006 : Column 610W:

Parliament (Protests)

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have been arrested for protesting within a mile of Parliament since 1 August 2005. [84110]
John Reid: The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has informed me that there have been 37 arrests for taking part in or organising an unauthorised demonstration in the designated area since 1 August 2005 and four arrests for failing to comply with conditions imposed by the Commissioner on a demonstration.

"within a mile of Parliament" is a bit innaccurate, as the legislation, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 section 138 The designated area says:

(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.

The actual Designated Area is less than "one kilometre in a straight line", even though there is some doubt about the exact extent of the boundary

July 11, 2006

Another couple of arrests outside Downing Street

rikki (anti-capitalist therefore does not use Capital letters) has another disturbing report (with pictures and video) of the arrest of Steven Jago and Barbara Tucker in Whitehall outside the Downing Street gates on Sunday.

See his report via Indymedia: SOCPA - serious police assault once again outside downing street

Presumably this bring the number of arrests to 35 people arrested, and still only 28 charged (although further charges may emerge after Stephen Jago was "reported" to the Crown Prosecution Service)

March 27, 2006

Barbara Tucker and Brian Haw arrested again in Parliament Square

One has to wonder exactly how well the Metropolitan Police are briefing their officers who patrol the Designated Area around Parliament Square, under the Serious Organised Crimeand Police Act 2005. Either thery are poorly trained or they are conducting a campaign of harassment.

Todays reports about the arrest and subsequent release of Brian Hawand Barbara Tucker, at the long running, and still perfectly legal anti-war protest in Parliament Square, seems to be a repeat of the very similar incident reported by the
BBC on 9th December 2005

Brian Haw, is, by virtue of the High Court ruling in his favour, which exposed the poor draughting of the hurried and improperly scrutinised SOCPA legislation, is currently exempt from its provisions regarding "unauthorised demonstrations", by virue of his protest having started before the Act came into force.

This means that none of the"Conditions" which can be applied arbitarily (and change at a whim by athe senior police officer on the spot), apply either e.g. restrictions on banners or posters etc.

Provided that there is no obstruction to the pavement (and there is plenty of room for the few passers by in the centre of Parliament Square, as established in previous court cases in favour of Brian Haw) there is no legal power for the police to try to confiscate a banner.

It is no wonder that Brian Haw has been released without charge, given that he was protesting to the police that what they were attempting to do was actually illegal.

Barbara Tucker, who was also arrested with him, is a long time supporter and friend of Brian's and appears to be under particular legal harassment by the power of the state.

She was the first person to be arrested and convicted of holding an unuthorised demonstration all on her own with no other people involved. Why should anyone be punished for holding a banner saying "I am not the Serious Organised Criminal" ?

It appears that she was arrested again on the same excuse i.e. that she was "suspected of holding an unuthorised demonstration".

How does one peaceful middle aged mother, on her own constitute any sort of security threat or possible disruption to the workings of Parliament ?

It is very frightening to see the power of the Labour government's police state bureaucracy, being used to try to crush single individuals.

January 19, 2006

Parliamentary Answer: there have been 28 people arrested in the SOCPA Designated Area since 1st August 2005

Home Office Minsiter Paul Goggins provided a Written Parliamentary Answer:

16 Jan 2006 : Column 1091W—continued


Parliament (Protests)

16. Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have been arrested for protesting within a mile of Parliament since 1 August 2005. [41784]

Paul Goggins: The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has informed me that there have been 28 arrests for taking part in an unauthorised demonstration in the designated area since 1 August 2005.

Does this total include this mystery man who was one of the very first to be arrested on 1st August 2005 ?

January 10, 2006

4 of the 1st August 2005 arrestees appear in front of Bow Street Magistrates' Court facing SOCPA Designated Area charges

One might have expected the first people to have been arrested and charged for alleged SOCPA section 132 offences, back on the 1st August 2005, to have been the first people
to be brought before a Magistrates court. For no logical reason, the Kafkaesque bureaucracy of the English judicial system managed to try and convict Maya Evans for such an offence before the first of the AUgust the 1st arrestees have faced a court, despite her ceremony at the Centoph having been held in October.

4 people appeared at Bow Street Magistrates Court yesterday,, according to The Guardian:

Mr Shaer, of Stockwell, south London; Mr Gallastegui, a coach driver from Harlesden, north-west London; Stephen Blum, 54, a teacher, from Battersea, south London; and Alwyn Simpson, 49, a local government officer from west London, face charges under the act. Mr Gallastegui is also charged with obstructing a police officer. The four deny the offences.

A fifth arrestee has had the charges dropped against her on the grounds of ill health.

The case will continue to be heard today Tuesday 1oth January 2006.

Another set of peaceful demonstrators are due to face court on January 19th.

December 27, 2005

First person in court for holding a "demonstration" on their own in the SOCPA Designated Area.

The first person to be arrested for holding a "demonstration" on their own without prior written permission from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, within the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Designated Area, is due to appear at Bow Street Magistrates Court around 10am Wednesday 29th December 2005.

We think that Barbara Tucker was arrested on Monday 19th December 2005, near Parliament carrying a banner saying "I am not the Serious Organised Criminal".

She seems to be the first person to have been arrested and charged under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 section 132(1) (c)

132 Demonstrating without authorisation in designated area (1) Any person who-


(c) carries on a demonstration by himself in a public place in the designated area,

According to Section 136 of SOCPA, this could attract the penalty of a criminal record (DNA, fingerprints etc. retained forever) and a potential fine of up to £ 1,000

(2) A person guilty of an offence under section 132(1)(b) or (c) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

How can one unarmed person, on their own, pose any threat or hinderance to the operations of the Houses of Parliament whatsoever ?

This brings the number of people we know about, arrested so fa under SOCPA, to 22, although there may actually be more than this.

December 4, 2005

First Court appearance following an arrest under the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square

The first actual court appearance of someone arrested under the controversial Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 20005 Designated Area around Parliament Square is due this Wednesday 7th December 2005.

Maya Evans was arrested with Milan Rai on the 25th October 2005, for holding a "bell ringing" remembrance ceremony for the Iraqui war dead, near the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

It will be interesting to see if the Bow Street Magistrate sets a legal precedent, by ruling that a "ceremony" within the Designated Area is actually a "demonstration" within the meaning of section 132 of the Serious Orhganised Crime and Police Act 2005.

if such a ruling is made, then this should be a major news story, as it will have serious implications for any other Ceremonies held within the Designates Area such as the Royal British Legion Poppy Day / Remembrance Sunday Cereomonies which were held in the same location near the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

Similarly the State Opening of Parliament in the Palace of Westminster and the the Trooping of the Colour Ceremonies in Horseguards Parade, also involving Her Majesty the Queen, will be affected as well.

There will also be implications for Freedom of Religon, especially for for Wedding, Funeral, or Remembrance Ceremonies etc. held in any of the Places of Worship within the Designated Area such as Westminster Abbey, or the Methodist Central Hall etc.

All of these locations are defined as "public places" under SOCPA:

(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,

November 27, 2005

Two more "bell-ringing ceremony" protestors arrested outside Parliament Friday 25th November 2005

Two more "bell-ringing ceremony" peace protestors ( Giulia and Anna-Linnéa) were arrested outside Parliament on Friday 25th November 2005.

Indymedia has some photos of the arrests:

"Two women were arrested on Friday 25th November while holding a bell-ringing ceremony outside Parliament to remember the estimated 100,000 people who had died since the beginning of the war in Iraq.

The women were arrested for being 'participants in an unauthorised demonstration'. The police were very reluctant to arrest and briefly authorised the protest but then banned it again when the women refused to give their details on the grounds that if the demonstration was now 'authorised' they should not be obliged to give their names.

The police also helpfully suggested that the two women join Brian Haw on the opposite pavement as he is the only person exempt from the laws ironically introduced to prevent his permanent anti-war display. However, as Brian's side of the pavement is now practically devoid of passers-by, this option was also turned down.

One policeman was heard saying 'I wish I could join you. I wish I could do what you're doing. This is filthy. This is very hard for all of us'.

The women were taken to Charing Cross police station but later released without charges. As well as being reluctant to arrest, the Police also seemed concerned at the possibility of two more people challenging the new laws.

19 people are currently facing charges under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (2005) which outlaws protests without police permission within 1km of Parliament. Let's hope that more will challenge this absurd and immoral law".

"On 25th October Milan Rai and Maya Evans of Justice Not Vengeance were arrested for holding a similar ceremony outside Downing Street. The two womens' action that took place outside Parliament on 25th November was undertaken in solidarity with Milan, Maya and all the other protesters arrested under the new legislation preventing demonstrations within 1 km of Parliament. "

The Designated Area is currently less than the maximum 1km in a straight line from the nearest point in Parliament Sqaure, but it is still repressively huge.

A comment on the Indymedia article link above says:

"according to police who compile the figures, at the time of milan rai's arrest a couple of weeks ago (for a similar remembrance protest outside downing street), the number of those facing charges under the soca law was already 27"

This is rather more than we have hear about, and perhaps we will have another go at a Freedom of Information Act request to find out for sure (not easy due to the bureaucracy and the far from seamless computer systems which the Metropolitan Police employ).

October 27, 2005

Future Court appearance dates

So far there have been Nineteen peope charged with demonstrating without authorisation under Section 132 of Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, with two exceptions, for the people who were arrested, but not yet currently charged with "organising".

Five people were arrested in Parliament Square on August 1st 2005 and are to be to be tried on January 9th 2006.

One of these people still has Bail Conditions which prevent him from entering the Designated Area

Five people were arrested on August 7th 2005 and are to be tried on January 23rd 2006.

One person was arrested on August 14th 2005

He has a pre-trial hearing on November 15th which will decide if his arguments re: genocide/war etc are admissible. He will then be given a trial date.

One person arrested on August 28th 2005

He is still to be charged with "organising" and will return to police station on November 9th for charging.

He had been given bail conditions which stopped him going to Parliament Square for any reason but these were dropped after the lawyers from Bindmans intervened - now he can go there but not protest.

Five people arrested on September 18th 2005
Pre-trial review on October 14th. Is there a trial date yet ?

This adds up to Seventeen

N.B. the Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation debate on Wednesday 12th October 2005 seemed to be working with a figure of 18 arrests up to that date.

Were they in error, or has an arrestee "disappeared" ?

Two people Arrested on October 25th 2005 in Whitehall opposite Downing Street.

One of these people was arrested for "organising" but has not yet been charged.
He will go back to the Police station on November 10th.

This adds up to Nineteen arrests (possibly 20).

"Zero tolerance" of demonstrations outside Downing Street - two more arrests in the Designated Area around Parliament Square

Two more peaceful demonstrators have been arrested under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, Designated Area law, not this time in Parliament Square, but outside of Downing Street.

Milan Rai, from Justice Not Vengance, one of the two demonstrators, is accused of being an "organiser", which carries potentially higher penalties, i.e. up to 51 weeks in prison, on the evidence of having phoned up the Charing Cross police station in order to tell them about the demonstration:

"When we arrived opposite Downing Street, the police jumped up and said: you will be arrested in five minutes, there is to be''zero tolerance".

Actually, it turned out to be more like half an hour, but they did arrest us exactly as promised. (They'd said they would over the phone when I talked to Charing Cross Events - my phone calls were the evidence
of my being the''organiser'.)"

Arrests at Whitehall Iraq Remembrance Ceremony

Interestingly, bell ringing, is not covered by the restrictions against the use of loudspeakers under the SOCPA legislation.

It is also interesting that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport claims that the participants and public spectators in the forthcoming Poppy Day Remembrance Sunday events on November 13th, with wreath laying at the Cenotaph, and with large numbers of people standing still wearing a Royal British Legion red poppy, in exactly the same location in Whitehall, are not covered by the SOCPA Designated Area restrictions, as this is a "Ceremony".

October 12, 2005

Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation approves the Statutory Instrument setting out the Designated Area around Parliament, by 8 votes to 7.

The Standing Committee for Delegated Legislation met on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the Designated Area Statutory Instrument.

Unfortunately this Committee could, as with all such SI's only vote to Reject or Accept the Statutory Instrument as a whole, and not to amend it.

Accordingly, despite some convincing points by the Liberal Democrat David Heath, and the Conservative Edward Garnier, and even from Harry Cohen and Robert Wareing on the Labour side, when it came to a vote, the SI was approved by 8 votes to 7.

We will link to the Hansard account of the debate when it becomes available online. (now available online)

Continue reading "Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation approves the Statutory Instrument setting out the Designated Area around Parliament, by 8 votes to 7." »

September 18, 2005

5 more arrests in Parliament Square - but were they under SOCPA ?

rikki has posted a report about Sunday 18th September's arrests in Parliament Square in a posting on the Indymedia UK website (which too often seems to suffer from technical and legal "collateral damage").

Were these arrests under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, or were they under other Police powers ?

"more arrests at parliament square under soca law today rikki | 18.09.2005 19:29 | Indymedia | London

five people were arrested late this afternoon for defying the ban on 'unauthorised protest' in parliament square under the new serious organised crime act legislation which became effective at the start of august this year

this afternoon's pro-democracy demonstration started well, with a small crowd sporting banners with many varied slogans contesting the draconian ban on protest in parliament square. armed with lists of bye-laws, protesters urged police to arrest people on all sorts of archaic and bizarre grounds, but without success. it seemed there was no quota for this afternoon!

later on, the crowd decided to move on to the south bank where preparations are underway for this evening's 'festival of light' public festival and procession attended by ken livingstone. although still in the 'designated area' the group was told by officers from lambeth police that they could carry on and so they demonstrated and informed people about the law in the area near the london eye. at one point private security guards tried to stop them, but as the police had basically given permission, they gave up a bit confused."

The Designated Area apparently comes under the jurisdiction of 3 different bits of the Metropolitan Police - most of it is under Westminster Borough Operational Command Unit (usually Charing Cross Police Station), the London Eye etc. South Bank of the Thames is under Lambeth Borough Operational Cammand Unit (probably Kennington Police Station), and then there is the Palace of Westminster Divsion (SO17).

Map of the Designated Area

"it was apparent once again that most people were unaware of this anti-democratic legislation, and many expressed surprise and disgust when they were informed.

some of the group decided to return to parliament square, and while attempting to hang a banner round churchill's neck they came to the attention of the police once again, and this time there were five arrests. it is not known whether soca legislation was used or whether other laws relating to the banner drop were used. the arrested are being held at charing cross police station this evening."

Surely that was a tactical mistake ? Posing in front of the statue of Sir Winston Churchill for press and media photos with banners is one thing, but foolishly draping or attempting to drape banners on the statue itself, was bound to be seen as "conspiracy to cause criminal damage" in the "reasonable opinion or belief" of the Police.

"meanwhile one or two protesters are still roaming the crowds at the south bank informing the crowds of this law, and hoping to both take part in the procession and to meet up with red (haha) ken as he does his customary walkabout.

to date, there have been 12 prior arrests under the new legislation and some of those waiting for charges on police bail are under condition not to return to parliament square. this condition is likely to be challenged in the courts, as of course will the whole law be if charges are finally brought.

there are ongoing protests, picnics and discussion groups at parliament square every sunday from noon, and you are all urged and welcome to attend - you can decide for yourself what level of challenge you wish to make to the law and thus whether to personally risk arrest, but at present it seems safe to simply go there and chat and picnic as police seem to be under political control and are simply targetting organisers and arresting quotas as instructed.


If these arrests were under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, and none of the people involved have been arrested more than once, there could now be 17 people facing criminal charges, since 1st August 2005, for demonstrating peacefully about the curtailment of the right of free assembly, freedom of speech and freedom to protest or demonstrate peacefully.

August 30, 2005

The Guardian: Picnicking protester arrested outside parliament

The Guardian reports:

Picnicking protester arrested outside parliament

Matthew Tempest, political correspondent
Tuesday August 30, 2005

A free speech activist arrested after a weekend "tea party" on Parliament Square has vowed to continue the campaign against new laws which restrict the right to protest outside the House of Commons.
Mark Barrett was arrested on Sunday after a midday picnic on the grass opposite Big Ben, aimed at demonstrating the severity of the clampdown on unauthorised protests.

Today he said the Sunday tea parties - which he claims are not demonstrations, but "Mad Hatter's Tea Party meets Speaker's Corner" and therefore are not subject to the new law - would continue.

Continue reading "The Guardian: Picnicking protester arrested outside parliament" »

August 19, 2005

Another Sunday Picnic protest in Parliament Square

There will be another Peaceful Protest Picnic starting at 12 noon, this Sunday 21st August 2005 in Parliament Square, to protest against the iniquitous restrictions on protests without prior written permission.

All demonstrations and protests, even by a single person, no matter what the cause or politics, are affected by this disproportionate legislation.

For the technically proficient, there is now a WiKi which has been set up which people can edit or post to (no registration or password required):

Hopefully this event will not have to become a regular one, and the Government will see sense and repeal this stupid law, before it is forced to do so by a legal challenge under the Human Rights Act.

The "Parliament Square 10" , are , in fact now the Parliament Square 11, as Chris Coverdale was arrested last Sunday.

August 15, 2005

Activists in Court over new Anti-Protest Exclusion Zone around Parliament - Bow Street Magistrates' Court, 9.30am Tuesday 16th August

15 August 2005


Bow Street Magistrates Court, 9.30am, Tuesday 16 August: Ten people arrested earlier this month during unauthorised demonstrations in the new anti-protest "exclusion zone" around Parliament will appear in court on Tuesday morning to plead "not guilty" to charges of participating in an unauthorised protest in the zone "without lawful authority or reasonable excuse." Among other things the ten - who will be outside the court at 9.30am with a banner reading "Defending the Right to Protest" - are expected to challenge the legality of the zone, which effectively removes the right to meaningful protest within 1km of the House of Commons.

Five of the defendants were arrested during a 1 August protest in Parliament Square organised by the Stop the War Coalition [A]. The remainder were arrested during a 'Mass Act of Defiance' in the Square on 7 August [B]

Under the new Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (April 2005) anyone wishing to demonstrate in the "designated area" around Parliament - which includes the Square, extends as far as the London Eye and includes all of Whitehall and a large part of Westminster - must apply to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner at least 6 days in advance or, if not "reasonably practicable", 24 hours in advance. Permission must be granted but the Commissioner can impose draconian conditions on the protest including: when and where it can take place; how long it can last; how many people can attend; how much noise can be made; and the number and size of banners and placards used [A].

One of the defendants, Emma Sangster said: "The new Act allows the police to make political decisions as to who may protest - and how - near Parliament, something clearly unacceptable in a free society. Protest and dissent are the source of many of the rights and freedoms we enjoy today and have played a crucial role in helping to end injustices such as Apartheid. We intend to challenge the legality of this zone and to expose just how unjust and draconian it is."

Prasanth Visweswaran 07838 101491, Emma Sangster 07791 486484

[A] See,9061,1540521,00.html
[B] See
[C] For more information on the Act see and

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