Parliament Square - Designated Area Statutory Instrument issued in secret last week

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Thanks to Anthony, a commentor on our previous posting who points us towards the Statutory Instrument 2005 No. 1537 The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Designated Area) Order 2005 which describes the Designated Area.

This was signed on the 8th June and "laid before Parliament" on the 10th of June. Why has there not been any Home Office Press release ?
Were they hoping that the public would not notice ?

"Designated area
2. - (1) For the purposes of sections 132 to 137 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, the designated area is the area bounded by an imaginary line starting at the point where Hungerford Bridge crosses Victoria Embankment, continuing along Hungerford Bridge to the point where it crosses Belvedere Road, rightwards along Belvedere Road as far as Chicheley Street, leftwards along Chicheley Street as far as York Road, rightwards along York Road, crossing Westminster Bridge Road into Lambeth Palace Road, along Lambeth Palace Road as far as Lambeth Bridge, over Lambeth Bridge, leftwards along Millbank as far as Thorney Street, along Thorney Street as far as Horseferry Road, leftwards along Horseferry Road as far as Strutton Ground, along Strutton Ground crossing over Victoria Street into Broadway, along Broadway as far as Queen Anne's Gate, along Queen Anne's Gate as far as Birdcage Walk, rightwards along Birdcage Walk as far as Horse Guards Road, along Horse Guards Road as far as the Mall, rightwards along the Mall, across the north end of Whitehall as far as Northumberland Avenue, along Northumberland Avenue as far as Victoria Embankment, leftwards along Victoria Embankment returning to the starting point.

(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."

Which corresponds pretty much with what we deduced from the press reports and maps yesterday.

For no good "security" reasons, the London Eye wheel on the other side of the River Thames is included, but St. James's Park only a few metres from Downing Street, is not included.

You can still protest without the extra restrictions outside the MI5 Security Service and the Northern Ireland Office buildings, - on re-reading, there is a detour "leftwards along Millbank as far as Thorney Street, along Thorney Street as far as Horseferry Road" which does include the MI5 and Northern Ireland Office buildings within the Designated Area, something which the newspaper maps did not show.

Most of the old Home Office buildings (now sold off to property speculators), are outside the Designated Area (except for the side facing Queen Anne's Gate), but the the new Home Office Buildings in Marsham Street are included. Similarly New Scotland Yard Metropolitan Police HQ, the main offices of the Conservative, Liberal Democrat or Labour Parties are also within the Designated Area, as is all of Whitehall and Downing Street.

The accompanying Explanatory Memorandum (.pdf) has the cheek to claim controversially:

"6. European Convention on Human Rights

6.1 Not applicable."

How the Home Office can make such a claim about this disproportionatly sized Designated Area, and the banning of spontaneous demonstrations or protests by even a single person, is a mystery, which seems likely to lead to a challenge in the Courts.

If what Parliament voted for was to remove the unsightly banners and placards from Brian Haw's one man "peace camp", then the Designated Area need only apply to the pavement in the central part of Parliament Square facing the Palace of Westminster, and nowhere else.

Despite the claims in this Explanatory Memorandum that there was a public consultation, this dealt mostly with the much the wider powers of arrest in what became the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, and no respondents seem to have commented on the couple of parargraphs which sought general views about Parliament Square demonstrations.

There has been no public consultation about the specific size and extent of the Designated Area, and the restrictions that the "Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis" is likely to apply are still secret or have not even been worked out yet.

The claim that

"8.1 A Regulatory Impact Assessment has not been prepared for this instrument as it has no impact on business, charities or voluntary bodies."

is also bogus, especially once the Police start harassing or arresting tourists who are wearing the "wrong" T-shirt or rubber wristband or badge.

The Statutory Instrument outlining the Designated Area, whilst naming streets, roads and pavements, is not limited to these. It also includes any "public place in the designated area".

This includes the public areas of the Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye wheel, Westminster Abbey, the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, and all the hotels, theatres, pubs, clubs and restaurants in the Designated Area, as well as all the Buses and Tube and Railway trains passing through.

Many of these have been used in the past to hold political meetings or protests, or to refresh people who have been protesting or demonstrating, and who may have leaflets, badges, T-shirts etc on them, so it is ridiculous to claim that there is no "impact on business".

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