Political protests, marches and rallies are part and parcel of living in a democracy. A citizen’s right to protest in the United Kingdom is protected by Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
If you’re planning to hold a rally, here’s what you need to know before starting:
If you’re planning any form of a march, you are required to inform the police at least six days in advance. You need to give them the date and time of your event, the route you are planning to take, and the names and addresses of the organisers if there are more than one. In some instances, you may need a permit in order to organise a legal rally in your chosen area, so it’s best to contact the police as soon as you possibly can. If you get the police on your side from an early date, you might find that they are more reasonable at the time of the protest itself.
If your rally doesn’t involve a march, then you don’t have to inform the police at all!
If the police deem it necessary, for example, if they believe there is a risk of property damage, they can impose restrictions on your rally – by limiting or changing the route of your march.
If you think the police have placed unfair conditions on your rally, you can appeal on many grounds, including an unsatisfactory decision-making process, an irrational decision or an infringement of the right to protest.
Appeals can always be made to the High Court.
Stop and Search
Police can stop and search people at your rally if they believe they have a reasonable cause to do so. A person being present at a protest, march or rally doesn’t constitute a reasonable justification in itself.