Joint Committee on the Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill call for evidence - are they trying to prevent the repeal of SOCPA sections 132 to 138 ?

The Joint Select Committee on the Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill (.pdf) has issued a public call for evidence:

Joint Committee on the Constitutional Renewal Bill call for evidence (.pdf)

Given the other important areas which this Bill covers e.g. War Powers, Treaties,the Civil Service and the Attorney General etc., there is a danger that the first section of the Bill will be hurriedly glossed over, and something other than a complete repeal of the extremely controversial and unpopular Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 sections 132 to 138, which the Draft Bill appears to promise, could end up being recommended by the Committee.

This must not be allowed to happen.


11. The Draft Bill provides an opportunity to re-balance the right to protest outside Parliament against the right of Parliament to operate effectively and without hindrance. How should this balance be struck?

12. Should Parliament be treated any differently from any other part of the country in terms of managing protests? How should the legitimate expectations of Parliamentarians and Parliamentary authorities be defined? In particular, would the repeal of sections 132 to 138 of Serious Organised Crime and Police Act give rise to a need for new powers for the police or other authorities to:

(i) Ensure free access to, from and around the Parliamentary Estate and to enable Parliamentarians to discharge their roles and responsibilities,
(ii) Restrict the use of loudspeakers,
(iii) Take account of the particular security risk,
(iv) Protect Parliament Square as a world heritage site,
(v) Prevent permanent demonstrations in Parliament Square,
(vi) Ensure equal access to the right to protest.

13. Are Sessional Orders (Orders passed by Parliament which impose an obligation on the Metropolitan Police Commissioner) still an appropriate means to manage protests around Parliament?

You have less than a month until 12th June 2008 if you want to try to influence this Committee, to make sure that they do not recommend some other equally undemocratic and restrictive alternative.

Submissions should aim to be no more than 3,000 words and a summary is helpful.
We welcome submissions that cover particular aspects of the Committee's inquiry as well as those that cover the Draft Bill more widely. Annexes may be submitted, but will not necessarily be published. Relevant material prepared for other purposes (such as reports or submissions to other inquiries and consultations) may be submitted to the Committee for information, but will not be printed. Witnesses who submit written evidence may be invited to give oral evidence to the Committee if time allows.

Submissions should be sent electronically (in Word) and in hard copy. Evidence should be clearly printed or typed on single sides of A4 paper, unstapled, and should be set out in numbered paragraphs. If drawings or charts are included, they should be in black-and-white and of camera-ready quality. The hard copy submission should be signed and dated, together with a note of the author's name and status and whether the evidence is submitted on an individual or corporate basis.

Please ensure that you include relevant contact details. These will be removed before publication.

Evidence and inquiries should be addressed to:

Kate Lawrence
Clerk to the Joint Committee on the Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill
House of Lords
London SW1A 0PW
email to
Tel: 020 7219 8675; Fax: 020 7219 4931

The deadline for submitting written evidence is 12 June

Once submitted, evidence submitted becomes the property of the Committee, and may be published. Witnesses may publicise their written evidence themselves, but in doing so should indicate that it was prepared for the Committee.

You can follow the inquiry via the Committee web pages, accessed from

This is a public call for evidence.

You are welcome to bring it to the attention of other groups and individuals who may not have received a copy directly.

Parliament Protest Web Button

Either save this image and link to us, or copy the HTML code below into your web page or template:

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond

Click here for a larger version of this web campaign button graphic.

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Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Protest Organisers

The hints and tips below are just as important to anybody organising a peaceful Protest near to Parliament Square, as they are to other people who might come under UK Government or Multinational Corpotation:

Please take the appropriate precautions if you are planning to blow the whistle on shadowy and powerful people in Government or commerce, and their dubious policies. The mainstream media and bloggers also need to take simple precautions to help preserve the anonymity of their sources e.g. see Spy Blog's Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - or use this easier to remember link:

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

Digital Security & Privacy for Human Rights Defenders manual, by Irish NGO Frontline Defenders.

Everyone’s Guide to By-Passing Internet Censorship for Citizens Worldwide (.pdf - 31 pages), by the Citizenlab at the University of Toronto.

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents - March 2008 version - (2.2 Mb - 80 pages .pdf) by Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Guide to Covering the Beijing Olympics by Human Rights Watch.

A Practical Security Handbook for Activists and Campaigns (v 2.6) (.doc - 62 pages), by experienced UK direct action political activists

Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress & Tor - useful step by step guide with software configuration screenshots by Ethan Zuckerman at Global Voices Advocacy. (updated March 10th 2009 with the latest Tor / Vidalia bundle details)

Convention on Modern Liberty - 28th Feb 2009

Convention on Modern Liberty - 28th Feb 2009
Convention on Modern Liberty - 28th Feb 2009

The Convention is being held in the Logan Hall and adjoining rooms at the Institute of Education in Bloomsbury, central London.


The Institute of Education
20 Bedford Way

There are video linked screenings or other parallel meetings being held across the UK in Belfast. Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff and Manchester.

Convention on Modern Liberty blog

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

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
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."

. - 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 protestor Brian Haw, who had been demonstrating continuously in Parliament Square, day and night, for over 10 years,(literally until his death in June 2011), the NuLabour Government overreacted, and granted themselves draconian and arbitrary powers, which affected 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.

N.B. SOCPA ss128-132 is now repealed and replaced with less restictive laws, but there are still some peculiar restrictions and bylaws on protests around Parliament Square.

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

For those of you who want to send us information in confidence, here is our PGP Public Encryption Key

Syndicate this site (XML):

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.

Brian Haw

Veteran peace protestor Brian Haw was physically camped out in Parliament Square since 2nd June 2001 until his death in June 2011

The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 sections 132 to 138 Designatd Area law seem to have been written to try to specifically suppress his protests, although, through sheer incompetence, the Government found that Brian Haw himself was initially exempt from some of it, since his protest started before the stupidly worded repressive legislation came into force, although a later High Court Appeal, at public exepnse, did apply the law to him.

See Parliament Square website for news and support details.

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 Alan Johnson Theresa May

You can send an email public.enquiries@ or a letter to:

Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP
Home Secretary
c/o Direct Communications Unit
Home Office
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF

Home Office Contact Us page

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.

The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 section 132 to 138 have been repealed by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 Part 3 on the Statute Book, but not yet Commenced by Order). This replaces the Designated Area with a much smaller Controlled Area - just Parliament Square Gardens and the surrounding pavements.

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 "temporary" GLA fence around Parliament Square Gardens (removed >then rebuilt)

Northumberland Avenue / Victoria Embankment

Trafalgar Square (on the edge of the Designated Area)