Sixteen peaceful Anonymous protestors leafletting opposite the Scientology Mission on Tottenham Court Road, London, had police called on them by the Mission who (falsely) claimed the protestors had been abusive and thrown bottles of water at the building. The police responded with six cars and two vans.

For reference, in the video the female police officer claims that a permit must be obtained prior to protesting. This is a gross over-simplification: as explained by yourright.org.uk (run by the human rights/civil liberties group Liberty):

Static Demonstrations and Assemblies
Unlike public processions, there is normally no requirement to give prior notice of an assembly but, under the Public Order Act, the police do have specific powers to control assemblies. Two persons can constitute an ‘assembly’. A public place is any highway (including the pavement) and any other place to which the public or a section of the public can have access.

The senior police officer at the scene has the power to impose conditions but only if he or she reasonably believes that:

* The conditions are necessary to prevent serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to the life of the community, or
* The purpose

of the person organising the assembly it is to intimidate others.

The only conditions may be imposed on a public assembly under POA are on:

* Location of the assembly,
* Maximum number of people participating in the assembly,
* Maximum duration of the assembly

Note also that although the police have power to impose conditions, there is no power to ban a public assembly altogether, Therefore if the conditions are so strict that they in effect prohibit the assembly from taking effect in any meaningful way (such as if the conditions restrict the protest to 5 people, in a side street away from the public and for a maximum of 5 minutes), it may be that they amount to a ban and are unlawful. An attempt by the police to impose excessively strict conditions may also be a breach of the protesters rights to assembly under Article 11 of the Convention.

While can be adviseable to inform the police beforehand it is not a legal requirement. Unfortunately many police officers deployed to protests do not seem to be as familiar with the law as they could be.

Half a dozen police cars and a pair of riot vans with sirens blaring does seem to be somewhat overkill, even for the stated reason of some bottles of water being thrown at the Mission. Wait and see whether the clams get punished for calling in false charges (since the police officer seemed quite willing to check the CCTV.)

Advertisements