Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill Part 3 - the end to Brian Haw's peace camp Temporary Autonomous Zone in Parliament Square ?

The previous Labour government reneged on their promise to repeal the extremely controversial Serious Organised crime and Police Act 2005 sections 132 to 138, which created the current Designated Area around Parliament Square. What was the first clause of the Constitutional reform and Governance Bill, was magically removed when that Bill mutated into one which dealt mostly with Pensions and Expenses for Members of Parliament, passed, without any democratic debate, during the "wash up" period when the General Election had been called.

The new Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government is having another attempt at it:

Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill has now had its Second Reading in the House of Commons.

As is typical of Home Office Bills, the most controversial sections are buried deep within the text, on the assumption that our lazy professional politicians will not bother to scrunise it, and that they will simply go through "on the nod".

Note the the retrospective legislation clauses which attempt to cover Brian Haw's existing protest peace camp, which they failed to make illegal under the SOCPA 2005 law, because he had been protesting before that legislation took effect.

Note also the banning of "sleeping equipment" or "tents" etc.

It is unclear if this ban will apply to gypsy Caravans or other Camper Vans or other Motor Vehicles which are certainly not "tents" or other "structures" or "sleeping equipment"

Part 3

Parliament Square Garden and surrounding area

Repeal of SOCPA 2005 provisions



139 Demonstrations in vicinity of Parliament: repeal of SOCPA 2005 provisions

(1) Sections 132 to 138 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (which regulate demonstrations and use of loudspeakers in the vicinity of Parliament) are repealed.

(2) The public assemblies in relation to which section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 applies, as a consequence of the repeal of section 132(6) of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, include public assemblies which started, or were being organised, before this section comes into force.

Controls on activities in Parliament Square Garden and adjoining pavements

140 Controlled area of Parliament Square

(1) For the purposes of this Part, the "controlled area of Parliament Square" means the area of land that is comprised in--

(a) the central garden of Parliament Square, and
(b) the footways that immediately adjoin the central garden of Parliament Square.

(2) In subsection (1)--

"the central garden of Parliament Square" means the site in Parliament Square on which the Minister of Works was authorised by the Parliament Square (Improvements) Act 1949 to lay out the garden referred to in that Act as "the new central garden";

"footway" has the same meaning as in the Highways Act 1980 (see section 329(1) of that Act).

Parliament Square Gardens comes under the authority of the Greater London Authority and the Mayor of London. The "footways" or pavements around the edge oof the central garden / park come under the authority of Westminster Council.

A Court ruled that there was no "obstruction of the pavement" as it was as deemed to be wide enough and the number of pedestrians passing by are very few (especially after the zebra crossings or pelican crossings into the central section of Parliament Square were removed a few years ago.

Brian Haw's peace camp has established a Temporary Autonomous Zone peace protest encampment ,straddling the two legal authorities.

141 Prohibited activities in controlled area of Parliament Square

(1) A constable or authorised officer who has reasonable grounds for believing
that a person is doing, or is about to do, a prohibited activity may direct the
person

(a) to cease doing that activity, or
(b) (as the case may be) not to start doing that activity.

(2) For the purposes of this Part, a "prohibited activity" is any of the following

(a) operating any amplified noise equipment in the controlled area of
Parliament Square;
(b) erecting or keeping erected in the controlled area of Parliament Square

(i) any tent, or
(ii) any other structure that is designed, or adapted, (solely or
mainly) for the purpose of facilitating sleeping or staying in a place for any period;

(c) using any tent or other such structure in the controlled area of Parliament Square for the purpose of sleeping or staying in that area;
(d) placing or keeping in place in the controlled area of Parliament Square any sleeping equipment with a view to its use (whether or not by the person placing it or keeping it in place) for the purpose of sleeping overnight in that area;
(e) using any sleeping equipment in the controlled area of Parliament Square for the purpose of sleeping overnight in that area.

What is the exact definition of "overnight" ?

(3) But an activity is not to be treated as a "prohibited activity" within subsection (2) if it is done

(a) for police, fire and rescue authority or ambulance purposes,
(b) by or on behalf of a relevant authority, or
(c) by a person so far as authorised under section 145 to do it (authorisation for operation of amplified noise equipment).

(4) In subsection (2)(a) "amplified noise equipment" means any device that is designed or adapted for amplifying sound, including (but not limited to)

(a) loudspeakers, and
(b) loudhailers.

(5) In subsection (3)(b) "relevant authority" means any of the following

(a) a Minister of the Crown or a government department,
(b) the Greater London Authority, or
(c) Westminster City Council.

(6) It is immaterial for the purposes of a prohibited activity

(a) in the case of an activity within subsection (2)(b) or (c) of keeping a tent or similar structure erected or using a tent or similar structure, whether the tent or structure was first erected before or after the coming into force of this section;
(b) in the case of an activity within subsection (2)(d) or (e) of keeping in place any sleeping equipment or using any such equipment, whether the sleeping equipment was first placed before or after the coming into force of this section.

Retrospective legislation aimed specifically at Brian Haw.

(7) In this section "sleeping equipment" means any sleeping bag, mattress or other similar item designed, or adapted, (solely or mainly) for the purpose of facilitating sleeping in a place.

(8) A person who fails without reasonable excuse to comply with a direction under subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.

"level 5 on the standard scale" is a £5,000 fine ! which must surely be very disproportionate.

142 Directions under section 141: further provision

(1) A direction requiring a person to cease doing a prohibited activity may include a direction that the person does not start doing that activity again after having ceased it.

(2) A direction requiring a person not to start doing a prohibited activity continues in force until

(a) the end of such period beginning with the day on which the direction is given as may be specified by the constable or authorised officer giving the direction, or

(b) if no such period is specified, the end of the period of 90 days beginning
with the day on which the direction is given.

(3) A period specified under subsection (2)(a) may not be longer than 90 days.

(4) A direction may be given to a person to cease operating, or not to start operating, any amplified noise equipment only if it appears to the constable or authorised officer giving the direction that the following condition is met.

(5) The condition is that the person is operating, or is about to operate, the equipment in such a manner as to produce sound that other persons in or in the vicinity of the controlled area of Parliament Square can hear or are likely to be able to hear.

(6) A direction

(a) may be given orally,
(b) may be given to any person individually or to two or more persons together, and
(c) may be withdrawn or varied by the person who gave it.

(7) In this section "amplified noise equipment" has the meaning given by section 141(4);
"direction" means a direction given under section 141(1).

143 Power to seize property

(1) A constable or authorised officer may seize and retain a prohibited item that is on any land in the controlled area of Parliament Square if it appears to that constable or officer that the item is being, or has been, used in connection with the commission of an offence under section 141.

(2) A constable may seize and retain a prohibited item that is on any land outside of the controlled area of Parliament Square if it appears to the constable that the item has been used in connection with the commission of an offence under section 141.

(3) A "prohibited item" is any item of a kind mentioned in section 141(2).

No ! We should not be giving "constables" the power to seize and retain property on their own self authorisation, without a Court Order. On past performance, this power will be abused.

(4) The constable or authorised officer may use reasonable force, if necessary, in exercising a power of seizure under subsection (1) or (in the case of a constable) under subsection (2).

(5) An item seized under this section must be returned to the person from whom
it was seized

(a) no later than the end of the period of 28 days beginning with the day on which the item was seized, or
(b) if proceedings are commenced against the person for an offence under section 141 before the return of the item under paragraph (a), at the conclusion of those proceedings.

(6) If it is not possible to return an item under subsection (5) because the name or address of the person from whom it was seized is not known

(a) the item may be returned to any other person appearing to have rights in the property who has come forward to claim it, or
(b) if there is no such person, the item may be disposed of or destroyed at any time after the end of the period of 90 days beginning with the day on which the item was seized.

(7) Subsections (5)(b) and (6) do not apply if a court makes an order under section
144(1)(a) for the forfeiture of the item.

(8) The references in subsections (1) and (2) to an item that is "on" any land include references to an item that is in the possession of a person who is on any such land.

144 Power of court on conviction

(1) The court may do either or both of the following on the conviction of a person
("P") of an offence under section 141

(a) make an order providing for the forfeiture of any item of a kind mentioned in subsection (2) of that section that was used in the commission of the offence;
(b) make such other order as the court considers appropriate for the purpose of preventing P from engaging in any prohibited activity in the controlled area of Parliament Square.

(2) An order under subsection (1)(b) may (in particular) require P not to enter the controlled area of Parliament Square for such period as may be specified in the order.

(3) Power of the court to make an order under this section is in addition to the court's power to impose a fine under section 141(8).

145 Authorisation for operation of amplified noise equipment

(1) The responsible authority for any land in the controlled area of Parliament Square may authorise a person in accordance with this section to operate on that land any amplified noise equipment (as defined by section 141(4)).

(2) An application for authorisation must be made to the responsible authority by or on behalf of the person (or persons) seeking the authorisation.

(3) The responsible authority may

(a) determine the form in which, and the manner in which, an application is to be made;
(b) specify the information to be supplied in connection with an application;
(c) require a fee to be paid for determining an application.

(4) If an application is duly made to a responsible authority, the authority must

(a) determine the application, and
(b) give notice in writing to the applicant of the authority's decision within the period of 21 days beginning with the day on which the authority receives the application.

(5) The notice must specify

(a) the person (or persons) authorised (whether by name or description),
(b) the kind of amplified noise equipment to which the authorisation
applies,
(c) the period to which the authorisation applies, and
(d) any conditions to which the authorisation is subject.

(6) The responsible authority may at any time

(a) withdraw an authorisation given to a person under this section, or
(b) vary any condition to which an authorisation is subject.

(7) Variation under subsection (6)(b) includes

(a) imposing a new condition,
(b) removing an existing condition, or
(c) altering any period to which a condition applies.

(8) The exercise of a power under subsection (6) to withdraw an authorisation or to vary a condition is effected by the responsible authority giving notice in writing to the applicant.

146 Meaning of "authorised officer" and "responsible authority"

(1) This section applies for the purposes of this Part.

(2) "Authorised officer", in relation to any land in the controlled area of Parliament
Square, means

(a) an employee of the responsible authority for that land who is authorised in writing by the authority for the purposes of this Part, and
(b) any other person who, under arrangements made with the responsible authority (whether by that or any other person), is so authorised for the purposes of this Part.

(3) "Responsible authority", in relation to any land in the controlled area of Parliament Square, means

(a) the Greater London Authority, for any land comprised in the central garden of Parliament Square (as defined by section 140(2)), and
(b) Westminster City Council, for any other land.

147 Effect of Part on byelaws

(1) In section 385 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 (byelaws), after

subsection (6) insert

"(6A) Byelaws under this section may not be made as respects Parliament Square Garden for the purpose of prohibiting a particular activity so far as that activity is a prohibited activity for the purposes of Part 3 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 (see section 141(2) of that Act).".

(2) Any byelaw made under section 385 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 before the date on which section 141 above comes into force ceases to have effect on that date so far as the byelaw makes provision prohibiting, as respects the controlled area of Parliament Square, a particular activity that is a prohibited activity for the purposes of this Part.

(3) Nothing in this Part restricts the making of any byelaw under section 235(1) of the Local Government Act 1972 (power of councils to make byelaws) for the purpose of prohibiting, as respects the controlled area of Parliament Square, a particular activity except so far as the activity is a prohibited activity for the purposes of this Part.

The next part 4 of this Bill was probably sneaked in as part of the Parliament Square stuff abiove, but it will apply throughout the rest of England and Wales:

Part 4

Miscellaneous

Seizure powers under byelaws

148 Enforcement of byelaws: powers of seizure etc

(1) After section 237 of the Local Government Act 1972 (offences against byelaws)
insert

"237ZA Section 235 byelaws: powers of seizure etc
A byelaw made under section 235 may include provision for or in connection with

(a) the seizure and retention of any property in connection with any contravention of the byelaw, and
(b) the forfeiture of any such property on a person's conviction of an offence of contravention of the byelaw.".

(2) In section 385 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 (byelaws), in subsection (4)(b) for "a trading byelaw" substitute "any byelaw under this section" Controlled area of Parliament Square

(1) For the purposes of this Part, the "controlled area of Parliament Square" means
the area of land that is comprised in

(a) the central garden of Parliament Square, and
(b) the footways that immediately adjoin the central garden of Parliament Square.

(2)
In subsection (1)--

"the central garden of Parliament Square" means the site in Parliament Square on which the Minister of Works was authorised by the Parliament Square (Improvements) Act 1949 to lay out the garden referred to in that Act as "the new central garden"; "footway" has the same meaning as in the Highways Act 1980 (see section 329(1) of that Act).

At least the huge , excessive Designated Area will be repealed, so perhaps fewer people will be stopped for carrying the Independent newspaper down Whitehall, or will be arrested and convicted for reading out the the names of British soldiers killed abroad recently, by the Cenotaph War memorial.

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: http://ht4w.co.uk

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.

Address:

The Institute of Education
20 Bedford Way
London
WC1H 0AL

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 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)

cfoi_150.jpg
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_150.gif
. 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 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

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:

parliamentsquare-subscribe@ yahoogroups.com

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@ homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk 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 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 "temporary" GLA fence around Parliament Square Gardens (removed >then rebuilt)

Northumberland Avenue / Victoria Embankment

Trafalgar Square (on the edge of the Designated Area)