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The most important thing to remember is that in general the police are not impartial. They are not interested in simply upholding the law and they are certainly not interested in upholding your rights; they are generally quite hostile to protestors. Years of collective experience have shown that the police generally consider it their job to stop you protesting if they can, or at least to make your protest less effective. Anything the police ask you to do or say at any time is for their benefit and not yours, and will often be detrimental to your interests.
The police are institutionally dishonest, and are full of dirty tricks. They will lie to try and convince you that your protest is illegal and that they have the power to stop you or move you. They will lie to try and convince you that you have to give them your details or that they have the power to search you. They will lie and exaggerate in statements to try and convict you of crimes you have not committed, and to cover up for themselves when they take unlawful action against you, such as unlawful arrests and stop and searches. The police lie most of the time. Most action taken by police against protestors is unlawful and is undertaken dishonestly and maliciously. These points cannot be emphasised enough, and they apply at all times: in the street, if you’re being raided, at the police station and in the courtroom.
Under these circumstances, the only sensible response is (1) non-
# If a police officer asks you to give them or show them something you are carrying, don’t.
# If a police officer tells you to stop filming him/her, carry on filming.
# If the police tell you to get out of your vehicle, don’t.
# If the police tell you to get in their vehicle, don’t.
# If the police ask to come into your house, don’t let them.
# If the police try and photograph you, turn and walk away.
# If a police officer tells you to sign something, don’t sign it.
# If a police officer tells you to go to them, stay where you are.
# If a police officer tells you to go somewhere, don’t go there.
# Unless you are being lawfully detained (e.g. for a stop and search, to use a police power to obtain your details, or you are under arrest; see section 2.2) you can lawfully walk or run away from the police.
Police will try to talk to you at a demonstration for one of four reasons: to give you an instruction or use some police power (such as arrest, stop and search, or gaining your details), to gain intelligence (under the guise of “friendly” conversation), to gain evidence against you to help them convict you, or to establish a rapport with you so that they can control you. If the police are talking to you, it’s for their benefit not yours, so don’t talk to them unless you have to. In general, you are under no obligation to speak to the police, or to answer any questions (see section 2.2 for exceptions). You can politely say you do not wish to speak to them, or you can remain silent. If you do have to talk to them, always record the conversation on video camera (see section 2.7 below). Do not engage in “friendly” chat with the police. In particular, respect other activists’ privacy: never discuss another person with the police. The police gain much of their intelligence from people who are willing to chat with them. What may seem like an irrelevant piece of information to you may be very important to the police. They want to know anything and everything they can find out about you and your friends. It is also important to remember that the police are not what you are there to fight against. If protestors become engaged in arguing with or talking to the police, this is a distraction from the purpose of the protest.
However, you will have to speak to the police if they are talking a lot of legal
nonsense and telling you that you have to move, stop doing what you are doing or
that they will arrest you; in other words if they are attempting to use their powers
unlawfully. In these circumstances, a little legal knowledge can go a long way and
you should calmly tell the police that they are talking nonsense-
Things Police Tell You To Do That You Have To Do
# If you’re actually under arrest, it’s an offence to actively resist or run away (sitting or lying down is passive resistance and is OK). Unless you are passively resisting, it also makes sense to get into a police vehicle if you’re under arrest. You are only under arrest once a police officer has touched you and told you you’re under arrest.
# Under certain circumstances the police have the power to give you directions as to where you must stand and how long you can remain there (for example under sections 12 and 14 of the POA 1986, and section 42 of the CJPA 2001, or if there is an injunction in place)
# There are certain circumstances where not to do what a police officer tells you to do constitutes the offence of obstruction of a police officer in the course of his duty (see under “Trespass” and “Breach of the Peace”).
Unfortunately, you also have to do the following (this list is not exhaustive):
# Stop your vehicle if you’re on a highway and the police signal you to stop (See under “Being stopped in a Vehicle”)
# Give your details in certain situations (see under “Giving Your Details”)
# Let the police search you in certain situations (see under “Stop and Search Powers”)
# Remove a face covering or give the police something they believe may be used as a face covering in certain situations (see under “Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (CJA)”).
# Let the police take your fingerprints, DNA and photograph if you’re under arrest
# There is one thing worth signing, and some bits of paper that you have to take, when you are under arrest (see under “Getting Arrested”), but don’t sign anything else, under arrest or otherwise.
There are also rare occasions when you might choose to talk to or co-
# The police liaison person (see section 2.4).
# If someone commits some crime against you and you want to make a complaint. In general, such complaints don’t go anywhere and are a waste of time, but a few do succeed.
Not withstanding the above, sometimes the police are not too hostile, and if this
is the case, nominating a protestor as a police liaison person can be beneficial.
When the police arrive, the police liaison person goes to meet them and introduces
themselves in a friendly way. They may say something like, “Hello, I’m John and
I’m the police liaison person today. Shall we just go over here where we can hear
each other better for a chat?” They then take the police to one side. This takes
the police away from the other protestors, who can carry on the protest and not be
distracted by the police. The liaison person will then talk to the police about
what they’re doing and say things like, “As you can see we’re just holding a peaceful
and lawful protest against XXXXX, we’re not going to be causing any trouble, we won’t
cause an obstruction, etc., etc.” This may take the police by surprise, and may
make them behave much nicer towards you, and allow the protest to continue without
disruption. The conversation must be recorded with a video camera. If the police
start talking nonsense about what you can and cannot do and using their powers unlawfully,
the liaison person can then argue (politely) with them, and the other protestors
are not involved. Again this will only work if the police are not entirely hostile;
if they are hostile, it will become obvious quite quickly and the police liaison
approach can be abandoned. Then it’s back to the non co-
Giving your details
The police will always want to know who you are and where you live. You do not have to give them your details except under a very few circumstances:
# if you are driving a vehicle and you have been stopped
# if you have been arrested (unless it’s to prevent a breach of the peace)
# if they reasonably suspect you of committing an offence and they want to report you for a summons or issue a fixed penalty (see below).
# if they reasonably suspect you of anti-
So, if you are just taking part in a peaceful demonstration, in general you do not
have to give your details, and you should refuse. If they say that they need your
details because they suspect you of an offence, ask them what offence they suspect
you of, and on what grounds they suspect you. Normally they will come out with a
load of nonsense, and you should challenge them on that. Police will often try do
deal with minor offences by way of fixed penalty (on the spot fine) or summons, i.e.
without arresting you, because they know that if they do this, if it turns out later
that there is no case against you, you cannot sue them; you can only sue them if
you have spent time in custody. If, however, they arrest you and then it turns out
there is no case against you, you stand to make a lot of money by sueing them for
false imprisonment, assault, interfering with your human rights and possibly malicious
prosecution (see section 5.2). If they say you have to give your details because
they suspect you of anti-
Normally, we would recommend that you do not give your details if the police say
they suspect you of an offence or of anti-
If you get a summons, you should normally plead not guilty, and you must get a solicitor as soon as possible. If you get a fixed penalty, don’t pay it. On the back of the penalty notice is a form you can send off to request a court hearing. Fill in and send this form; they may or may not send you a summons, to which you should normally plead not guilty.
Under normal circumstances, the police have no right to search you. The situations when they can search you are:
1. If they have reasonable grounds for suspecting that you are carrying stolen or prohibited articles or articles with a sharp point or blade. Prohibited articles are offensive weapons (articles made or adapted for causing injury or carried with the intention of causing injury) and articles made or adapted for use in committing burglary, theft, fraud or criminal damage or carried with the intention of committing these offences. (S1 PACE).
2. Police may search anyone they reasonably suspect to be a terrorist for evidence that he is a terrorist (Section 45 Terrorism Act 2000)
3. If a Section 60 (CJA) authorisation is in effect, police can stop and search anyone in the area covered by the authorisation. This can only be used if there is a risk of serious violence, and you can only be searched for offensive weapons.
4. If a Section 44 (Terrorism Act 2000) authorisation is in effect, police can stop and search anyone for items that could be used in connection with terrorism. They can search pedestrians, drivers and passengers in vehicles. However, S44 has been found to be illegal by the European Court of Human Rights and so should not be used.
The main point to remember here is that unless a section 60 or section 44 authorisation
is in effect, the police must have some sort of reasonable suspicion that you are
carrying something you shouldn’t be before they can search you. Searches of protestors
are normally carried out unlawfully. Therefore challenge the police officer searching
you. Ask them under what power they are searching you, and their reasons for searching
you. If they are searching you under Section 1 of PACE, ask what they suspect you
of carrying, and their grounds for suspicion. If you have been stopped and searched,
you do not have to give your details (they will ask), but the police officer must
give you a record of the search with his details and the reasons for the search.
It’s best not to carry wallets or other personal items that will give the police
your identity if you are searched. However, it may be wise to give your details if
you want to make a complaint about the search later (see section 5.1). If you know
that the search is unlawful and you can prove it, it is best not to co-
Video cameras will protect you against false and malicious allegations (from the police and members of public) and will prevent some of the excesses of police behaviour. They will also help you sue the police and make complaints (see section 5). The video camera is your friend; for most protests they are essential. We recommend recording all exchanges with police, community support officers, security guards, etc.; we do not talk to the police unless there is a camera rolling. It is also important to get a lot of general footage of the protest, both before and after the police arrive, to show what you were doing. In the past, we have been victimised by police to the extent that we have had to record the entire protest and everything that happened in order to protect ourselves from malicious allegations from the police. However, the police do not like having cameras pointed at them, precisely because it protects us and prevents them making up lies about us, telling us lies or abusing their powers. They will tell you that you’re not allowed to film them, that it’s against their human rights to photograph them without their permission, that it’s a security risk. These things are not true. They may threaten to seize the camera, but they are not allowed to do this unless they believe it contains evidence of an offence. They may try to physically stop you filming them, but this is an assault. You are allowed to video the police (or security guards, or community support officers or anybody else). However, beware of the following:
# Get the permission of the other protestors before you record them
# Be careful not to use tapes/memory cards that have material on from previous protests that you don’t want the police to see, in case you get arrested.
# If you are arrested with a camera, the police will seize it and retain it as evidence. It is therefore a good idea, if arrests take place, that the cameraperson avoids arrest if possible, for instance by complying with any police directions even if they are unlawfully imposed. If you are arrested with a camera, it may be possible to hand it to someone else before you get carted away.
# However, even if the cameraperson is not arrested, the police have the power to seize anyone’s camera if they believe it may contain evidence of an offence. The police often use this power dishonestly to confiscate any footage that might show they are acting unlawfully. Be aware that if people are videoed being arrested, the police may suddenly grab the cameraperson or their camera for this reason.
If you are driving a vehicle on a highway and a police officer signals you to stop,
you must do so. The driver must give his or her details if the police ask for them.
It is also sensible to answer questions related to the legality of your driving,
e.g. whether you’re insured or not, etc., but do not answer other questions. However,
no passengers are required to give their details (unless the police suspect them
of an offence or anti-
Anti copyrights, feel free to distribute.