Download this blog by Lochlinn Parker at ITN Solicitors and Owen Greenhall at Garden Court Chambers. It aims to help you understand how you can protest, and highlights some of the difficulties you may face. However, while we believe the content is accurate (as of 5pm on 14 September 2020) the law is constantly changing. In any event, the question of whether you will comply with the regulations will be highly specific to the facts of each case, and falling foul of the law may result in a £10,000 fine. If therefore you are organising a protest you are strongly urged to seek independent legal advice.
Advice from the green and black cross web site
The most relevant aspect of the law is that relating to outside gatherings.
NOTE: the coronovirus regulations number 4 come into effect with the UK wide lockdown starting on November 5th 2020.
It is unclear to us how the new legislation affects protest, and we will update this page as soon as we get more information. Meanwhile we think that gatherings are restricted to 2 people rather than 6, and fear that the police will use this as an excuse to impose fines on participants and disperse gatherings. There appears to no longer be an exception for protest.
The previous legislation, in effect until 4th November 2020 is as follows:
It is currently prohibited under the Coronavirus regulations in England (in all tiers of lockdown) to participate in a gathering outside of more than 6 people (but see below for exceptions for protest). If the police “consider” that this rule is being broken they have the power to:
Either – Issue you a Fixed Penalty Notice (£100 for a first offence, rising if you have received previous fines up to a maximum of £6400)
Or – Arrest you on suspicion of having broken the Coronavirus regulations. If successfully convicted under this legislation, the maximum penalty is a fine.
A Fixed Penalty Notice is not a criminal record, and will not show up on DBS checks, whereas a conviction could do.
So far, these powers have been used very variably at protests. Netpol’s Policing the Corona State blog has more details of how they have been used, and you can also contact Netpol with your experiences.
There is a specific exemption around protests, with some rules:
These regulations are untested in the courts as yet. Care should always be taken to look at the relevant regulations in place when planning any action, as the regulations change frequently.
This page was last updated on 28th October 2020.
If you have been arrested or issued a Fixed Penalty Notice at a demonstration since 26th March 2020, please contact email@example.com or call 07946541511