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January 17, 2009

House of Lords Written Answers - SOCPA ss132 -138 Designated Area around Parliament Square trial and conviction statistics

A reminder that the wretched affront to our peaceful democratic rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, the SOCPA Designated Area is still in force, and has not even been reduced in size (something which does not require a new Act of Parliament), even though the government has vaguely promised to repeal it.

House of Lords, Written Answers, Thursday, 15 January 2009

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2009-01-15a.183.0

Questions

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (Spokesperson for the Home Office; Liberal Democrat):

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to repeal the provisions of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 that prevent demonstrations in Parliament Square without police permission; and, if so, when. [HL436]

Lord West of Spithead (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Security and Counter-terrorism), Home Office; Labour):

The Government announced their intention in March 2008 to repeal Sections 132 to 138 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. These provisions were included in the draft Constitutional Renewal Bill last Session.

I can assure the noble Baroness that we remain strongly committed to constitutional renewal and our aim is to bring a Bill forward in the spring, subject to the parliamentary timetable.

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2009-01-15a.183.3

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (Spokesperson for the Home Office; Liberal Democrat):

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people have been detained and how many fines have been issued as a result of demonstrations that contravened the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. [HL438]

Lord West of Spithead (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Security and Counter-terrorism), Home Office; Labour):

Data showing the number of persons given a custodial sentence and fined for selected offences under the 2005 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act from 2005 to 2007 (the latest available) are in the attached table.

The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offence for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

Number of persons given immediate custody and fined for selected offences relating to the 2005 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, England and Wales, 2005(1) to 2007(2) (3)
YearGiven immediate custodyFined
2005--
2006-5
2007-21

(1) The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act came into force on 1 August 2005.

(2) The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more

15 Jan 2009 : Column WA184

offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

(3) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2009-01-15a.184.0

Lord Avebury (Spokesperson for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Spokesperson for the Home Office; Liberal Democrat):

To ask Her Majesty's Government in respect of sections 132 to 138 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, how many (a) persons were arrested in each year since 2005, including 2008 to date; (b) persons in each of those groups were sent to trial; (c) persons in each of those groups were found guilty; and (d) persons in each of those groups were given a custodial sentence. [HL443]

Lord West of Spithead (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Security and Counter-terrorism), Home Office; Labour):

The Home Office does not hold this arrest data centrally. I shall write to the noble Lord once I have received that information from the Metropolitan Police.

Data showing the number of persons proceeded against, committed for trial, found guilty and given a custodial sentence under selected sections of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act from 2005 to 2007 (the latest available) are in the attached table.

The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offence for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

Number of persons proceeded against at magistrates' courts, committed for trial, found guilty and given immediate custody for selected offences relating to the 2005 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, 2005(1) to 2007(2) (3)
YearProceeded againstCommitted for trialFound guiltyGiven immediate custody
20057-1-
200625-19-
200773-22-

(1) The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act came into force on 1 August 2005.

(2) The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

(3) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

Source: E&A Unit--Office for Criminal Justice Reform.

Ref: IOS 619-08.

15 Jan 2009 : Column WA185

April 3, 2008

Poor quality Home Office Statistics on the number of arrests in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square

The "why is he still in a job after personally presiding over so many cockups and scandals" Home Office Minister Tony McNulty answered a Parliamentary Written Question, giving a few details about the numbers of people (91 arrests, 18 convictions, up to December 2006) who have been arrested in the Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond:

1 Apr 2008 : Column 755W
Demonstrations: Parliament Square

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) males and (b) females, broken down by age group, were (i) arrested, (ii) prosecuted and (iii) convicted of unlawful public demonstrations in Parliament Square in each of the last three years for which information is available. [192539]

Mr. McNulty: Data showing the number of males and females, by age group, proceeded against and found guilty of organising or carrying out a demonstration in a designated area in 2005 and 2006 are found in the following table. The Ministry of Justice are unable to separate offences committed in Parliament Square from those committed in other locations within the designated area.

The Home Office does not collect the information requested on arrests centrally. However I understand from the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police that since Section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 came into force until the end of December 2006, there have been 91 arrests of individuals for a range of offences connected to demonstrations in the vicinity of Parliament. Data on the number of arrests in 2007 is not available.

Someone is lying or is bureaucratically inept if they cannot tally up the figures for 2007 more than 3 months into 2008.

1 Apr 2008 : Column 755W

Mr. McNulty: Data showing the number of males and females, by age group, proceeded against and found guilty of organising or carrying out a demonstration in a designated area in 2005 and 2006 are found in the following table. The Ministry of Justice are unable to separate offences committed in Parliament Square from those committed in other locations within the designated area.

See Table below:

Continue reading "Poor quality Home Office Statistics on the number of arrests in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square" »

April 12, 2006

Milan Rai fined £350 with £150 costs for Organising an unauthorised demonstration under the SOCPA Designated Area law

Milan Rai has become the first person to be convicted of organising an unuthorised demonstration under the controversial Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Section 132 Designated Area law around Parliament Square.

Milan has been fined £350 with £150 costs i.e. £500. He does not intend to pay and will try to appeal against this conviction.

Lifestyle Extra has a good report:

Peace activist refuses to pay fine

Wednesday, 12th April 2006, 13:06
Category: Crime and Punishment

LIFE STYLE EXTRA (UK) - A peace activist convicted under new laws banning unauthorised demonstrations near the Houses of Parliament today (Wed) vowed to go to prison rather than pay a fine.

Milan Rai, 40, escaped a jail sentence at Bow Street magistrates' court and was slapped with a £350 and £150 costs after he refused to obtain police permission for his demonstration next to the Cenotaph in Whitehall near the gates to Downing Street last year.

Outside the court today, Rai said: "I have no intention of paying the fine.

[...]

"I am prepared to go to prison over this, I'm not scared. I guess people are afraid of the unknown, but I have already been to jail and it becomes less daunting every time."

[...]

Today district Judge Nicholas Evans said Rai, who faced up to 51 weeks' imprisonment under the controversial new law, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, had known the consequences of protesting without a permit.

Continue reading "Milan Rai fined £350 with £150 costs for Organising an unauthorised demonstration under the SOCPA Designated Area law" »

April 5, 2006

Mark Barrett fined £250 under the SOCA Designated Area law

The BBC reports that Mark Barrett has been convicted of demonstarting unlawfully, under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, and has been fined £250.

UPDATE: It seems that Mark has also been landed with £250 of costs as well, i.e. £500 in total.

Mark says in an interview with BBC London, that he will not pay the fine, and is prepared to go to prison if necessary, to defy this bad law.

You can see a RealMedia video clip of the report on the BBC website..

The BBC London reporter Guy Smith did a "now I am outside the 'Exclusion Zone' , now I am inside it" piece at the southern end of Lambeth Bridge , with the Houses of Parlaiment in the background.. Actually, we think that he was within the Desiganted Area in both camera positions.

The graphic of the extent of the Designated Area (again referred to as the "Exclusion Zone") also managed to miss out the western loop around the MI5 amd Northern Ireland Office buildings.

There was stock footage of the violent Countryside Alliance demonstration which was, of course, one where only a section of the crowd turned violent on the day, partly due to the weak police presence at the time, something which could never have been predicted by the organisers, 6 days in advance. In contrast, there was footage of the weekly peaceful Sunday picnic in Parliament Square Gardens (which starts between 1pm and 1.30pm), showing nothing more violent than a cup of tea.

Another few soundbites from a Human Rights lawyer and overall quite reasonable publcity from the BBC - thanks for the link back to this website.

January 24, 2006

Another 5 convictions under the SOCPA Designated Area law

Bow_Street_Magistrates_Court_Mon_23_Jan_2006.jpg

It looks as if all 5 defendants in Monday's trial at Bow Street Magistrates' Court , who faced charges under the controversial Serious Organised Crime and Police Act section 132 relating to their arrests on August 7th 2005, have all been convicted, each of them being fined £50 and with a year's conditional discharge, and of course, a criminal record.

Thanks to Woody for the photo and a court report:

Continue reading "Another 5 convictions under the SOCPA Designated Area law" »

January 11, 2006

Day 3 - 1st Aug SOCPA trial - all 4 defendents found guilty - updated

It seems that, according to rikki posting to IndyMedia:

the trial of four defendants accused of participating in an unauthorised demonstration in the designated area around parliament on the 1st august last summer ended today with all four being found guilty. full court report to follow shortly.

the four defendants were given small fines or conditional discharges, and told to pay small costs.

it is likely the defendants will appeal.

We await more details soon.

UPDATE: rikki has now published his

full court report on socpa trial and mysterious side issues

This contains the astonishing words by the Magistrate Nicholas Evans

the magistrate came back with a scenario of a peaceful and quiet demonstration which he then suggested became a hindrance to parliament when (AND I QUOTE HIM!!) "some rastafarians enter happy clapping mode" (i kid you not!!) - he asked whether it would be reasonable for the demo to suddenly become illegal for all participating in it?

As with the previous prosecution of Maya Evans, the Magistrate would not rule on the Human Rights Act implications of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, taking the view that these would matters for a higher court to consider.

rikki's points about the non-arrest of the Stop the War Coalition organisers, the non-arrest of Jeremy Corbyn MP and about the first man who was actually arrested, but who seems to have disappeared, are also well made.

Continue reading "Day 3 - 1st Aug SOCPA trial - all 4 defendents found guilty - updated" »

December 7, 2005

Maya Evans convicted under section 132 of SOCPA - given a conditional discharge

The BBC reports that Maya Evans has been convicted.

Maya Anne Evans, 25, a vegan cook from Hastings, was found guilty of breaching Section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.

She was arrested in October after reading out names of soldiers killed in Iraq at central London's Cenotaph.

Bow Street magistrates gave her a conditional discharge.

According to Sky News preview of tomorrow's newspapers, both the right wing Daily Mail and the left of centre Independent give over their front pages to highlight this restrction on free speech..

Maya Evans case was specifically discussed by David Cracknell of the Sunday Times and Lembit Öpik a Liberal Democrat MP, who said of the restriction on free speech being reported on the front pages of the Daily Mail and The Independent, "It is as bad as it sounds".

Continue reading "Maya Evans convicted under section 132 of SOCPA - given a conditional discharge" »