January 15, 2008

Managing Protest consultation response

Here is our short response to the Home Office's Managing Protest around Parliament public consultation which closes this Thursday 17th January 2008:

  • 1) Repeal SOCPA 2005 sections 132 to 138
  • 2) No "harmonisation" with the Public Order Act 1986
  • 3) Sessional Orders must be reformed for the 21st Century
Some possible face saving options and minor amendments:
  • Option 1: Vastly reduce the size of the Section 138 Designated Area
  • Option 2: Remove the inclusion of indoor "Public Places
  • Option 3: Clarify the ambiguous extent of the Section 138 Designated Area boundary
  • Option 4: Amend Section 132 to include a clear definition of the word "demonstration"
  • Option 5: Modify the SOCPA 2005 Section 128 Protected Site Designations
  • Option 6: Remove the Security Service MI5 Thames House "steps" anomaly

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August 21, 2007

Cabinet Office 70 Whitehall SOCPA section 128 trespassing on a Protected SIte charges dropped in favour of "attempted burglary"

The charges against Obadiah Marius (44) and Victoria Smith (19) under SOCPA section 128 have been dropped, but, incredibly, they have now been charged with attempted burglary. !

If this offence is available in law to the authorities, then why is there any need for the SOCPA section 128 Offence of trespassing on a designated site at all ?

The prosecution claimed in court that there were Warning Signs around the perimeter of 70 Whitehall when the alleged offences took place, something which may have been planned, but which was not actually put into practice, as we noticed, and as Obadiah Marius's barrister noticed personally on the day of his initial court hearing.

Such signs have subsequently appeared, hastily tied with plastic cable ties, to the stone balustrade columns along the frontage of the 70 Whitehall Cabinet Office building.

Newham Recorder account of Victoria Smith's court appearance.

June 10, 2007

First arrests in Downing Street under SOCPA section 128 ?

The Cabinet Office and Downing Street are not public areas, but this story is relevant to the identical SOCPA section 128 perimeters around the Palace of Westminster and Portcullis House Protected Sites, which used to have public areas until 1st June.

The Sunday Express carries this story, which the Press Association and other media have pocked up / copied.

The Sunday Express
' Sunday June 10,2007

Two intruders were able to walk into Downing Street - bypassing the wrought-iron security gates installed to protect the Prime Minister from bombers, it has emerged.

Obadiah Marius and his girlfriend strolled into the street after wandering through a neighbouring Whitehall building unchallenged, a No 10 spokesman confirmed.

The incident occurred on Monday afternoon when Marius, 44, and his partner walked into 70 Whitehall, which houses the Cabinet Office, off the street.

How did these two get past the supposedly always manned security desk at the entrance to 70 Whitehall ?

Unchecked, the pair found themselves at the rear of the building which backs on to Downing Street.

The Designated / Protected Site boundary covers Downing Street roadway and pavements and the north side of the road i.e. the Cabinet Office and Numbers 9, 10. 11 and 12 Downing Street.

The route allowed them to circumnavigate the gates installed by Margaret Thatcher to thwart terrorists amid the IRA bombing campaign in the 1980s and they were then arrested under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.

There are no warning signs around the perimeter of the Cabinet Office building at 70 Whitehall.

Marius, 44, appeared in court on Thursday but his girlfriend, identified only as Miss Smith, was released without charge.

"I got into an area I should never have been allowed into," Marius told the Sunday Express.

"It really is a disgrace. I think they are going to drop the charges."


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June 2, 2007

SOCPA Section 128 Protected Site signs within the SOCPA Section 132 Designated Area

With no publicity or public consultation, or any interest from the mainstream media, and no debate or scrutiny from Members of Parliament, the access of members of the General Public to meet with and lobby and observe their elected Members of Parliament and the unelected Lords has been further reduced as of 1st June 2007.

See our previous blog entry:- Palace of Westminster and Portcullis House now Designated under SOCPA Section 128 - even the previously public areas !

Some perimeter warning signs have now appeared around some of the Designated parts of the Parliamentary Estate. They say:

Trespass on this Site
is a criminal offence.

This is a protected site
under Section 128
of the Serious Organised Crime
and Police Act 2005.

At the Victoria Embankment end of Derby Gate:


N.B. there are no such signs visible at the glass fronted public entrance and lobby to the Committee Rooms in Portcullis House.

At the base of "Big Ben" St. Stephen's Clock Tower on Bridge Street (which has been scaled by demonstrators in the past):


The vast array of black painted spiky railings, black painted concrete barriers, black CCTV surveillance camera "death star" mountings and now these "Protected Site" signs, all just show how paranoid and unfriendly and out of touch with the electorate, Parliament has now become. No wonder politicians are held in such increasing contempt by the public.


Note that Section 128 Offence of trespassing on designated site of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 was amended by Section 12 Trespassing etc. on nuclear sites of the Terrorism Act 2006, which, for some unfathomable reason, decided to replace the word "designated" with "protected" in the text of the clauses (but not in the sub-title of Section 128). This now lumps together military bases , military nuclear, civil nuclear and other designated sites into the category of Protected Sites.

Protected against what, exactly ? Not against terrorists, since many other laws would already apply. Presumably the protection is against otherwise peaceful demonstrators, with the collateral damage side effect, of further restricting the rights of the general public, even when they are not demonstrating or protesting peacefully.

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March 28, 2007

Palace of Westminster and Portcullis House now Designated under SOCPA Section 128 - even the previously public areas !

Home Office Minister Tony "not fit for purpose" McNulty has signed Statutory Instrument 2007 No. 930 - The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Designated Sites under Section 128) Order 2007 which comes into force on 1st June 2007.

This "designates" some more sites, under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Section 128

Most controversially this now "designates" the entire Palace of Westminster and Portcullis House office buildings, crucially, even the formerly public access areas such the Central Lobby or the Committee Rooms.

It is intolerable for any Police officer and / or the Attorney General to have the power of arrest and prosecution on a charge which could lead to up to 51 weeks in prison in these particular areas, threatneing and chilling the democratic right of constituents. to meet and lobby their Members of Parliament, or to listen to the proceedings of Select Committees etc.

Designating the exterior of the building and the private office spaces and the Chambers of Parliament seems fair enough, but not the public areas. There are plenty of other existing laws to deal with "disturbing the peace" or any threats of actual violence etc which apply to these areas, it is typical of the Labour Government control freaks like Tony McNulty and his boss John Reid, to ineptly further restrict our democratic freedoms to assemble and protest and lobby democratically and peacefully.


Members of Parliament seemed to have not understood that these public areas of Parliament itself are already curtailed, under Section 132 of the same Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, since the Palace of Westminster is within the Designated Area around Parliament Square, which includes:

Section 132 (7)

(b) "public place" means any highway or any place to which at the material time the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission,

Now it appears that you can be arrested,on the whim of a Police officer, inside Parliament both under Section 128 and Section 132 of the Act.

Under Section 128, it is your mere presence within the Designated Site which now surrounds the formerly public areas inside the Parliament buildings, which is criminalised, even if you are not actually protesting or demonstrating, and even if you leave when requested to do so.

The new criminal offence of "Offence of trespassing on designated site" is entirely separate from that of criminal trespass, or the civil common law offence of trespass.

Section 128 is so badly written, that there actually no exemptions, even for the owners of the Designated Sites themselves i.e. the Crown, the Duchy of Cornwall, the UK Military, the UK Government, Parliament and the operators of nuclear power stations etc.
Their only right under Section 128, is to grant permission in respect to the display of warning notices around the periphery of the site.

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