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The UK police have been arresting protesters for being anti-monarchy in public.

What I want to know is:

  • HOW: Can the UK justify these arrests within their own laws? Have they tried to?
  • WHY: Has there even been a statement about it that is coherent from all of parliament?
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    Aren't questions expected to contain references? There is not even a date for the alleged events. Did it take place in 2022? Jul 19, 2023 at 17:15
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    There have never been any arrests on these grounds. If the OP believes there have been, they should provide sources, otherwise: vote to close. Jul 19, 2023 at 17:19

2 Answers 2

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I think it's important to be clear that the police have not been arresting protestors "for being anti-monarchy in public". While calling for the abolition of the monarchy is technically illegal under section 3 of the Treason Felony Act 1848, a prosecution has not been brought since 1879. For example, when the King was presented with the Scottish regalia at Edinburgh on July 5th, there were "hundreds of peaceful protestors" according to Police Scotland, and just four eventual arrests - one for theft, one for an existing warrant, and two for a breach of the peace after allegedly climbing over a safety barrier. This last offence is presumably referring to an alleged breach of section 38 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010.

At the coronation of King Charles in May 2023, there were 64 arrests, according to the Metropolitan police, for a number of alleged offenses:

52 of these related to concerns people were going to disrupt the event, and arrests included to prevent a breach of the peace and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. As part of the wider policing operation eight arrests were made for other offences, including possession of an offensive weapon, drugs offences, and breaching a sexual harm prevention order.

The press release goes on to mention the arrest of six individuals on suspicion of going equipped for locking on (for example, supergluing or zip tieing themselves to street furniture), contrary to Section 2 of the Public Order Act 2023. After investigating the items seized from the individuals, the police released them, cancelled their bail, and apologised:

The investigation team have now fully examined the items seized and reviewed the full circumstances of the arrest. Those arrested stated the items would be used to secure their placards, and the investigation has been unable to prove intent to use them to lock on and disrupt the event. This evening all six have had their bail cancelled and no further action will be taken. We regret that those six people arrested were unable to join the wider group of protesters in Trafalgar Square and elsewhere on the procession route.

There have been a few other arrests, for example a man arrested on suspicion of threatening behaviour after throwing eggs at the King, contrary to section 4 of the Public Order Act 1986. He was eventually sentenced to a 12-month community order and 100 hours of unpaid work. I'm sure I've missed some, so please leave a comment if you have any more specific examples you'd like me to add.

The policing of the coronation in particular was examined in Parliament by the Home Affairs Select Committee on May 17th, and a transcript of the oral evidence heard may be found on their website. The committee heard from the Metropolitan Police, the National Police Chiefs' Council, the anti-monarchy group Republic, and others. The Assistant Commissioner of the Met, Matt Twist, was asked whether the police had had due regard to their duty under section 6 of the Human Rights Act to facilitate protest, for example:

Of course, and I have seen reporting, which is completely erroneous and false, that suggests that all protest was prohibited, banned or in some way constrained. That simply is not the case. We are very familiar with our duties around dealing with protest, both positive duties under the Human Rights Act and negative duties. Balancing the rights of people who wish to protest with those impacted by the protest is part of the day-to-day job of policing in London.

At a later session, the Home Secretary supported the policing efforts, and told the committee that the event "was a success for the police. It went off unimpeded, and people were able to enjoy that historic event."

An urgent question was also tabled in the House of Commons by SNP MP Joanna Cherry, and answered by Chris Philp, the Minister for Crime, Policing, and Fire:

Today, Commissioner Mark Rowley has outlined the intelligence picture in the hours leading up to the coronation. It included more than one plot to cause severe disruption by placing activated rape alarms in the path of horses to induce a stampede and a separate plot to douse participants in the procession with paint. That was the context: a once in a generation national moment facing specific intelligence threats about multiple, well-organised plots to disrupt it. The focus of the police was, rightly, on ensuring that the momentous occasion passed safely and without major disruption. That was successful. All plots to disrupt the coronation were foiled by a combination of intelligence work and proactive vigilant policing on the ground. I would like to thank the police and congratulate them on that success.

At the same time, extensive—[Interruption.] Wait for it. At the same time, extensive planning ensured that protests could take place. That was also successful. Hundreds of protesters exercised their right to peaceful protest, including a large group numbering in the hundreds in and around Trafalgar Square. Where the police reasonably believed they had grounds for arrest, they acted. The latest information is that 64 arrests were made. I will not comment on individual cases or specific decisions, but the arrests included a person wanted for sexual offences, people equipped to commit criminal damage with large quantities of paint, and arrests on suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance, often backed by intelligence. The Met’s update last night included regret—to use its word—that six people arrested could not join the hundreds protesting in Trafalgar Square and nearby. The Met confirmed that those six people have now had their bail cancelled with no further action.

His full statements and the full debate may be found in Hansard.

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There are plenty of laws relating to public order, Notably the laws created by 1986 Public Order Act. There's a new act passed by Parliament recently.

Current legislation to manage protests provides predominantly for powers to counter behaviours at protests which are violent or distressing to the public. These powers include those under the Public Order Act 1986 (the “1986 Act”) which provides the police with powers to manage public processions and assemblies, including protests. Sections 12 and 14 of the 1986 Act (as amended by the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022) allow the police to impose any type of condition on a public procession or public assembly necessary to prevent: significant impact on persons or serious disruption to the activities of an organisation by noise; serious disorder; serious damage to property; serious disruption to the life of the community; or if the purpose of the persons organising the protest is the intimidation of others with a view to compelling them not to do an act they have a right to do, or to do an act they have a right not to do.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/public-order-bill-overarching-documents/public-order-bill-factsheet

So the Laws exist. - Whether one thinks the laws should exist is a matter of debate, and so explicitly not answered here.

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    This does not appear to be an answer to the question. Jul 19, 2023 at 17:17
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    I think it does. "How" The police are using public order laws to arrest protesters. "Why" because this is the will of Parliament. "is there a statement about this" Yes, I linked to one.
    – James K
    Jul 19, 2023 at 22:06
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    It seems like a good answer to me. Pointing to laws that allow police to arrest people who are in public seems like a good explanation of how they're able to arrest people in who are in public and also anti-monarchy Jul 20, 2023 at 3:30

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