13 Apr 2009

Sorry, is Protesting Ilegal Now?

There are a hundred articles on the 114 people arrested today in Nottingham in
"the biggest pre-emptive raid on environmental campaigners in UK history, arresting 114 people believed to be planning direct action at a coal-fired power station."

The Guardian lauches in with emotive statements such as the police "seized "specialist equipment" which turns out to be "bolt cutters". About as specialist as jodphurs are to a horse rider then.

People arranging to protest is not an arrestable offence, but as is becoming all to clear of late, the police use any legislative powers they can, including arresting people"on suspicion of planning to cause criminal damage to a power station.

Correct me if I am wrong, and I am not so subtley indicating my legal training here again, but inchoate offences require the offender to be within the proximity of committing the offence. The people arrested were not at the power station, they were not going to the power station and they are highly unlikely to be charged with anything given our waste of a prosecution service [note, while I do not think they *should* be arrested, the CPS are lacking in sufficient balls to charge anyone unless there is a 99% chance of convition]

So what we are seeing is a large demonstration of the public services to deter protests in the environmental sector. Because the Tomalinson situation wasnt a deterent!

It is NOT ilegal to protest in the UK and long may it remain so, but if the police have such wide ranging powers as provided by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 without regulation, we may see more and more of this sort of nonsense.

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