A new Care2 film in collaboration with Sussex Police has been released to give more insight into how activism is managed and provide details for organisations on the legal rights of protesters at UK demonstrations.
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In the new video Care2’s Senior UK Campaigner, Beth Granter, interviews Protest Liaison Officer (PLO) Sergeant Mark Redbourn, from Sussex Police, to find out what rights members of the public have when peacefully protesting.
VIEW THE VIDEO HERE: http://bit.ly/ActivistFAQ
Granter is a Brighton-based activist who has previously been monitored by Sussex Police in relation to her peaceful involvement in LGBT and anti-cuts organising and says she hopes the video shows the public they can engage in direct action legally and safely.
This nine-minute Care2 video offers useful insight for anyone who wants to learn more about their rights while engaging in democratic protest.
“The video answers practical questions people may have about activism,” Granter says. “Some people are afraid to use their legal right to protest because they don’t know what they can and can’t do within the law. They’re afraid of getting into trouble.”
“Demonstrating for issues you believe in is a valuable part of a democratic society,” she says. “I hope the Care2 video encourages more people to get out there, protest, and draw attention to what’s important to them.”
The video covers how people can legally demonstrate, as well as how to handle police questioning, kettling and surveillance. Topics include:
- When are members of the public allowed to film the police, if at all? In this video, Sergeant Redbourn says this is legal in a public place.
- Do protestors have to tell the police about a demo they’re organising? Sergeant Redbourn says if it’s static — meaning it takes place at one location, and is not a march — organisers are not required to alert police.
- What if a protestor gets kettled for hours and needs the toilet, as happened to Granter? Will the person get arrested for public urination? According to Sergeant Redbourn, if the confined person has explained to a police officer the situation and they’re still not allowed out, public urination should not result in arrest.
“Police Liaison Teams at Sussex want to be open and transparent while engaging with the community as a whole, and therefore we were pleased to participate in this video,” Sergeant Redbourn told Care2. “We always aim for protests to be peaceful, and we hope that if the public has as much information as they can while also talking to PLT officers, we are far more likely to achieve this.”
In the video, Sergeant Redbourn encourages activists to engage with police and share details of their protest plans. However, Granter warns viewers to consider the potential risks of engaging with the police when not legally obliged, as doing so could lead to monitoring, intelligence gathering and even police harassment. Beth advises activists to seek further advice from the Network for Police Monitoring, Netpol and from Green and Black Cross, an organisation that provides legal support for activists.
Kevin Blowe, Coordinator of Netpol, was less assured by the answers given by Sergeant Redbourn in the interview as he believes police there is evidence the police are using “sophisticated intelligence-gathering tools” to covertly gather information across different protest movements. Mr Blowe highlights Sussex Police’s use of Police Liaison Officers to spy on anti-fracking campaigners as an example to support this theory.
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