This is not a comprehensive list of laws which you may come across, but they are the ones which come to mind as the ones that could be used.
For further information about laws used against protesters, police powers, the arrest procedure and your rights, check out the freebeagles website. It is worth reading up on the following laws as knowledge is power (!) however it should be noted that the police don’t always stick to the law.
Despite this, you should not be put off getting out there and campaigning – hunt saboteurs are out in the fields sometimes several days a week, effectively stopping the killing and with only a handful of arrests made each year.
– Ensure that you have the name/number of a trusted solicitor with you (local groups may be able to suggest some or will be handing out “Bust Cards” with legal information on them)
– If you are meeting up with a local group, find out if they have a legal support or arrestee-support team at hand and get the contact phone number for them
– Ensure that you have a name and address that can be verified by someone (just in case!)
– The police have as much right as any member of the public to take photographs/film you. Unless you are under arrest, you do not have to comply with such activity. You may also film and take photographs of the police. Putting a hand or map up in front of your face is not illegal, though putting it up in front of the camera may be seen as obstructing police. Be careful if you are filming as you do not want to get anyone else in trouble, accidentally identify them or make them feel uncomfortable
– Be careful not to use people’s real names when around the police or pro-cull people and be careful what you say around people you don’t know
Stop and Search
If the police can argue that they have reasonable suspicion that you as an individual may be carrying stolen property, offensive weapons or drugs, they can search you under Section 1 of PACE. They should not read any personal correspondence (but often will) and you do not have to give your details.
If an officer of at least the rank of inspector believes serious public disorder or violence may occur in a given area, an order can be authorised under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. These orders have to cover a specific area and can last for up to 24hours (although repeated orders can be made). They should be put into writing as soon as possible.
They give police officers in the areas the power to stop and search any person or vehicle, passengers, luggage, etc. to look for dangerous or offensive weapons. They do not have to suspect you as an individual – they can search anyone they want. If there are a lot of people in an area, those that fit the officers’ profiles of “troublemaker” are more likely to be stopped first/most.
If a “Section 60 Order” is in place, police may also use Section 60AA to ask a person to remove any item that the person is wearing to hide their identity (masks, balaclavas, etc.) It is not against the law to wear such items, just to refuse to remove them or hand them over to police when asked to do so.
Giving your details…
You are not obliged to carry I.D. in the UK, though police officers will sometimes ask for proof of I.D. In situations where you must provide your details (see below) they can check the electoral register, call someone at your home address or check a driving license, etc. It is up to you whether or not you carry I.D.
If you are the driver of a vehicle, you are required by law to give your details (name, address, date of birth) when asked by an officer. They have the right to stop any vehicle and demand to see driving license, MOT and insurance documents. This is covered by Sections 164 and 165 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. If you do not have your documents, you should be given a “producer” and be allowed to attend a police station with the documents within seven days. Passengers are not required to give their details unless suspected of being part of another offence or wear not wearing seat-belts, etc.
Section 50 Police Reform Act 2002 makes it an offence to refuse to give your details (name and address only) if an officer reasonably believes you have been or are engaging in “anti-social behaviour”. This is behaviour that is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to someone. You can be arrested and charged if you refuse, though the police often abuse this law – use your discretion!
If you are arrested or given “street-bail” (meaning you are arrested, but released on bail without going to the station) you can refuse to give your details, but this will cause delays/extra hassle for you as well as the police. It is up to you, but most people give their details at this point.
Breach of the Peace
A breach of the peace is someone using or threatening to use violence either against a person or (in their presence) someone’s property. It is not the making of noise such as blowing a whistle, using a drum or megaphone (depending on what is said), etc. You do not actually have to be violent in order to be arrested – if your actions are provoking other people to use violence, the police may arrest you to prevent this.
In taking action, the police should arrest/give a direction to the person or people provoking/threatening violence and not just to the smallest party involved. If arrested, you will not be charged with an offence so you do not have to give your details (or fingerprints, photo or DNA) to the police. Unfortunately, if you are trespassing, you could legitimately be arrested for “breach of the peace” as you could be seen as interfering with the property rights of another person, therefore provoking them to use violence against you. However, you will often be given warnings to stop your actions/leave land before you are arrested, so you have an opportunity to get away.
Trespass and “Aggravated Trespass”
“The act of remaining or entering on land without a right to do so”
Trespass itself is not a criminal act in the UK. It is usually dealt with as a civil matter… If you refuse to leave land, however, reasonable force can be used to remove you or the police may be asked to assist. You may be arrested to prevent a breach of the peace if they are feeling particularly nasty. Trespass becomes unlawful if you are trying to disrupt, deter, obstruct or otherwise interfere with a lawful activity. This is known as “aggravated trespass”.
You will normally be given an option of leaving instead of being arrested, obviously depending on what it is you allegedly did and the mood of the situation. While some police forces have said they are not intending to use this law to arrest anti-cull protesters (as it may be unclear at times if shooting is a “lawful activity” on a particular piece of land) other forces have suggested that anyone seen wearing an anti-cull or hunt saboteurs association t-shirt in the cull areas will be arrested preventatively…
Remember, though, that your intention must be to disrupt the activity. If you are walking along footpaths, regardless of what time of day/night it is, you are entitled to be there. If you happen to be in the area of the cull and shooting has to stop because of your presence, you have still not committed an offence as your intention was merely to go for a walk, not to disrupt the cull…
Harassment, Alarm, Distress
Section 5 Public Order Act 1986 deals with the offence of causing someone harassment, alarm or distress. In order to be guilty of this offence, you must have been using threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour or words (or disorderly behaviour). The use of amplified noise would rarely fit into this category. Generally speaking, when dealing with farmers, marksmen, police and others, don’t swear or shout abuse at anyone. Keep what you’re saying factual and don’t give the police any excuse to arrest you.
Conditions placed on protest
Section 14 Public Order Act 1986 generally deals with protests on the street, so should only affect you if you have decided to do a stationary protest outside a company, supermarket, etc. Conditions imposed on the protest can only include the duration of the protest, how many people can take part and where the protest can take place and these must balance the right to freedom of speech with the right of the company to continue their business. Conditions should only be imposed if there is a threat of serious damage to land or property, of disruption to the life of the community or to prevent serious public disorder or if the officer believes that the intention of the organisers is to intimidate other people. Conditions can only be imposed by the senior officer at the scene.
Again, generally speaking, if you use common sense and don’t block the highway or doorways to shops or other buildings and you put across your points and the facts politely, you should draw less negative attention from the police. You do not have to ask for permission before conducting a stationary protest.
For information regarding staying within the law on protests and with letter/email writing and phone-calls to companies such as the supermarkets supporting the cull, see “Malicious Communication” on the freebeagles website: http://www.network23.org/freebeagles
Section 241 Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992
Unlikely to be used, but an interesting one to mention none-the-less as this law has been used in the past to arrest various protesters. A person commits an offence if they use violence towards or intimidate a person or their family or damage their property in order to stop them from doing a lawful activity or to force them to do something they have a right to refuse to do. Persistently following a person, following them in a disorderly manner (along with two or more other people), stalking them at their house or place of work or hiding their tools, clothes or property (or hindering them in the use of their tools, etc.) with them same aim also amounts to such an offence.
It is a harder one to prove against somebody, but, again, staying polite and non-violent in your actions may go in your favour if you do end up having to deal with the police.
Protection from Harassment Act 1997
Under this law, a person must not pursue a “course of conduct” which amounts to harassment of another and which they ought to know would amount to harassment of the other person. A “course of conduct” means that at least two incidents have happened to an individual, for example a marksman.
Squatting (land and buildings)
Squatting means occupying empty buildings, or land, without permission. In September 2012, Section 144 of LASPO made it a criminal offence to trespass in residential properties with the intention of living there. Still, only the police have the authority to force entry and enforce the new law. You can also squat as normal in non-residential properties (which includes pubs (but not any flats above them), warehouses, hospitals, barns and, of course, land) and you may still find owners who will give you permission to use their property.
There should always be someone in the place as this is what gives you your legal protection. The owners can evict you if they find the place empty, so you should always have someone at home. When you move in you should note any reading on electricity/gas meters and contact the suppliers telling them you wish to set up an account (don’t say you are squatting). A copy of a letter/reference number can help show the police you are trying to pay any bills. Do not open the door to any police or people you don’t know!
Information on how to squat a piece of land is minimal, but has been done by protest camps in the past. It appears that simply having a “symbolic” barrier running around the boundary of the land you wish to keep possession of is enough by law – so, a simple rope will do the trick just to mark out what area you are squatting. Of course, this will not stop the determined landowner, so you may want to think more about security on site and how to better secure the perimeter.
– Don’t swear at or threaten anyone
– Don’t declare any intention of stopping a lawful activity
– Safety should be paramount for all parties – make sure that shooters are aware of your location
– Wearing the same clothes as others makes everyone less identifiable
– It is perfectly lawful upon seeing a group of people with guns to shout to them “stop shooting, we believe you are acting unlawfully and you must now wait for the police”. This would be a particularly good tactic if the police happened to be behind you as it would be making your intention very clear; that you are looking at stopping the illegal killing of badgers.
Hunt Saboteurs Association: hsa.enviroweb.org/
Stop The Cull Campaign: www.stopthecull.net
General legal information: www.network23.org/freebeagles
Specific information regarding stops & searches: www.stop-watch.org
“No Comment” Handbooks (available from the Legal Monitoring and Defence Group)
Advisory Service for Squatters: www.squatter.org.uk
Vegan Prisoners Support Group: www.vpsg.org
Information about security: www.activistsecurity.org
Download our BUST CARD here (PDF)
Whenever a police force approaches a grass roots direct action group to have a chat, the alarm bells should start ringing. In this particular case they wanted more than a chat, they wanted us to show them how we planned to behave, in return we would get to see how they planned to respond to us.
It would be naive to think that the police would reveal to us their actual level of policing, response times, crimes they were looking for etc. So it seemed on the face of it that we had nothing to gain and possibly something to lose, however we were allowed to bring in an independent adjudicator and decided it might be worth doing if we could get press out of it. Especially as we would only be disclosing the tactics that are discussed quite regularly in a number of places:
1. Disrupting the illegal shooting of badgers, with bright lights and noise (not fireworks).
2. The monitoring and filming of the legal shooting of badgers, where we have been instructed that land has been licensed, of course we would have to make our presence known to the marksman to ensure public safety, this would be our intention. As to “have the intention of stopping a lawful activity” is a criminal offence.
During the “table top exercise” police didn’t think an offence could be committed if no noise was used, It is difficult to say you were “alarmed or distressed” by a torch being used across a field at night.
The police were unable to tell us which farms are licenced under the cull and which aren’t.
As this information is being kept secret, it is impossible for us to know whether badger killing on a particular farm is legal or not.
Below we shall go through each of these pieces of legislations, we would encourage everyone to do their own research & remember Hunt Sabs go out every week all across the country during hunting season, they do often encounter police officers but there are very few convictions, as few as 3 in an entire year for “aggravated trespass” So don’t be scared by all these different offences, arm yourself with knowledge and you can steer clear convictions and successfully stop the cull using direct action.
“Aggravated Trespass” This law was created just to try and stop hunt sabs:
A person commits the offence of aggravated trespass if he trespasses on land and, in relation to any lawful activity which persons are engaging in or are about to engage in on that or adjoining land , does there anything which is intended by him to have the effect—
(a)of intimidating those persons or any of them so as to deter them or any of them from engaging in that activity,
(b)of obstructing that activity, or
(c)of disrupting that activity.
The intention of the direct action is to disrupt the shooting of badgers which is illegal, the fact that a cull may be licenced during “some” time, on “some” land in a vague area, does not make shooting badgers legal, it may well be that within the cull zone some farmers have not paid into the cull but have decided to shoot badgers anyway thinking that no one would know, but even if they are legit, we are not to know where that zone is and which land is paid up and legal.
It is perfectly lawful upon seeing a group of people with guns to shout to them “stop shooting, we believe you are acting unlawfully and you are now under citizens arrest and must wait for the police” This would be a particularly good tactic if the police happened to be behind you as it would be making your intention very clear; that you are looking at stopping the illegal killing of badgers.
If it is made clear to us where the cull is taking place legally, we will endeavour to publish the boundaries of those pieces of land, so that everyone knows where it is taking place. If you want to help stop the cull, we would encourage you to go to these places to monitor and film the killing of badgers, using cree led torches and videocameras. If you feel that you need to use noise to make any marksman aware of your position to ensure your own and others safety then that is a perfectly lawful intention, if it has the effect of scaring badgers away from bait points, thats ok, as long as that was not your intention!
General advice for dealing with the police is to say “no comment”, you may well come across some police who seem like thoroughly nice people, however they are wasting your time AND can be very tricky, for example:
Police officer: “Isn’t it terrible about these badgers, we are right behind you. Are you going to try and stop the shooting?”
You: “yes, we are going over there and hopefully we can distract them from slaughtering badgers”
Police officer: “you are under arrest”
Keep it short and polite:
Police officer: “My daughter is a vegetarian, I think its terrible, where are you heading?”
you: “I am walking the highways & footpaths as is my right, good night” and keep walking.
You have nothing to gain from chatting to police officers, a badger could literally be shot in the few minutes you spend chatting to them trying to present a polite front.
Prohibition of harassment.
(1)A person must not pursue a course of conduct—
(a)which amounts to harassment of another, and
(b)which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the other.
(2)For the purposes of this section, the person whose course of conduct is in question ought to know that it amounts to harassment of another if a reasonable person in possession of the same information would think the course of conduct amounted to harassment of the other.
(3)Subsection (1) does not apply to a course of conduct if the person who pursued it shows—
(a)that it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime,
(b)that it was pursued under any enactment or rule of law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any enactment, or
(c)that in the particular circumstances the pursuit of the course of conduct was reasonable.
A “course of conduct” means that at least two incidents have happened to an individual, for example a marksman could say:
“at 9.30pm someone shouted at me to stop killing badgers, I was scared, the person shouting had flourescent trousers, I jumped on my quad bike and drove on to the next bait point. 30 minutes later the same person screamed at me, I was scared” This could happen over ANY time frame, half an hour or 3 weeks/months.
To avoid being arrested for Harassment a very simple method is to wear the same clothing as everyone else, this makes it much harder for anyone to identify you.
Combat trousers (or black trousers)
Black hooded top
Yellow Hi-Viz Jacket (these fold up small)
Cut off the arm of a black t-shirt if you don’t want to be filmed and recognised, put this cut off arm round your neck and pull it up whenever you need it. You can at a push use a complete t-shirt
This goes for most offences, if you can’t be identified then the legal system comes to a halt. By not giving marksman or police officers any identifying factors about yourself as you travel around the zone you protect not only yourself but others who are dressed like you.
Which brings us on to section 60 of the Public order act an act that has to be put in place by a senior police officer, to cover a specific area for no more than 48 hours, for the purposes of protesting it is used to stop facial coverings being used, An officer can ask you to remove a facial covering if this is in place and arrest you if you refuse, it is not until AFTER you have been arrested that you have to take off a disguise. Ask to see copies of the order, where it covers and when it was signed and by whom.
Section 50 of the public order act may be used so that police officers can try and gather intelligence on who is demonstrating and where they are from, by threatening to arrest them if they don’t give them their name an address, this is done when a crime is believed to be taking place similar to Section 5 of the public order act:
A person is guilty of an offence if he—
(a)uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or
(b)displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,
within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.
(2)An offence under this section may be committed in a public or a private place, except that no offence is committed where the words or behaviour are used, or the writing, sign or other visible representation is displayed, by a person inside a dwelling and the other person is also inside that or another dwelling.
(3)It is a defence for the accused to prove—
(a)that he had no reason to believe that there was any person within hearing or sight who was likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress, or
(b)that he was inside a dwelling and had no reason to believe that the words or behaviour used, or the writing, sign or other visible representation displayed, would be heard or seen by a person outside that or any other dwelling, or
(c)that his conduct was reasonable.
Offences would include swearing such as “you f#$*ing murderer” but if no such offences have taken place, then a section 50 cannot be legally used, if you are told that you must give your name and adress under this section insist on finding out what anti-social behaviour is taking place, generally when police know that you understand “section 50 of the public order act” fully they may leave you alone.
Is not a criminal offence so you would not end up with a criminal record.
We would urge everyone to read up on these offences, so that everyone can feel confident that they are acting within the law, the police have been known to say to people “You have to leave the area” or “you have to take off the face covering” and they particularly like to try and get information about you, where your from etc. thats why its so important to know your rights.
Police do occasionally arrest people just to be seen to be doing something, if you are at the receiving end of that sort of behaviour, you could like many hundreds of people before you, be liable to a compensation payment from the police of thousands of pounds.
To stay broadly within the law:
Don’t swear or threaten anyone (section 5 of Public order act)
Don’t declare the intention of stopping a lawful activity (aggravated trespass)
Safety should be paramount for all parties, make sure that shooters are aware of your location.
Wear the same clothes as everyone else, this protects everyone, if you can’t run across fields stopping badgers from being killed, wear the same clothes of those that do, by standing shoulder to shoulder we can stop the cull.
“We are treading a line between the parties,” said Police Inspector Ravenscroft. “Public safety is paramount to everybody involved. We could request that the culling company stop activity on the ground on a particular night to safeguard public safety.”
With 300 of us we can make it difficult for them, with 500 of us we can be at most crossroads and hundreds of observation points which should bring the cull to a grinding halt within a week, With a thousand of us, we will stop it immediately.
Don’t wait for someone else to organise; find friends, prepare, be ready..