The Department of Justice , under Jack Straw, has published
The Governance of Britain - Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill (.pdf 98 pages)
The good news is that the very first section of this draft Bill would repeal the wretched sections 132 to 138 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. Hurray !
PART 1 DEMONSTRATIONS IN THE VICINITY OF PARLIAMENT
1 Repeal of sections 132 to 138 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005
(1) Omit sections 132 to 138 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (c.15) (which regulates demonstrations in the vicinity of Parliament)
(2) In the Table in section 175(3) of that Act (transitional provision relating to offences) omit the entries relating to section 136.
(3) In paragraph 1(1) of Schedule 2 to the Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993 (c.40) (which is about consents for the operation of loudspeakers) omit "or of section 137(1) of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005".
(4) Omit paragraph 64 of Schedule 6 to the Serious Crime Act 2007 (c.27)
This repeal includes the ban on loudspeakers.
The inchoate offences under the Serious Crime Act 2007 i.e. conspiracy, aiding and abetting the Organisation of an unauthorised Demonstration under SOCPA section 136 offences, will also be repealed. These are on the statute book, but not yet brought into force (they were due to come into force probably next month in April)
Essentially things revert back to the status quo ante and section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 and section 62 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 and section 8 of the Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993 will apply to the former Designated Area, just like they do in the rest of London and to the rest of England and Wales.
These Acts do not apply to the< strong>interior public spaces of the Palace of Westminster , Portcullis House, or to the churches, theatres, cinemas, pubs clubs, bars and restaurants etc.which were caught under the SOCPA Designated Area definition of a "public place"
The Bill also changes the role of the Attorney General to that of , mostly the Director of Public Prosecutions, in deciding whether or not to go ahead with a prosecution under many bits of legislation, including the Criminal Trespass on Protected Sites section 128 of SOCPA, which is not being repealed, and which will still apply to the Palace of Westminster, Portcullis House, the north side of Downing Street and the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Defence buildings , the Security Service MI5 and Secret Intelligence Service MI6 headquarters buildings and Buckingham Palace etc.
However, this is still only a Draft Bill, and the actual legislation might not be passed and come into force until next year.
In the meantime, the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith should rescind the Designated Area Order, which she could do with the stroke of a pen, today.
The Metropolitan Police Service and the Crown Prosecution Service should immediately drop any pending charges or prosecutions under this soon to be repealed legislation.
Ideally, there should be a Royal Pardon and a Public Apology given to those people who have been convicted under this badly conceived, badly written SOCPA section 132 legislation. Their fingerprint and DNA profiles etc. as well as those of the people who have been arrested but not charged or not convicted, should be expunged from the criminal records and intelligence databases.