Here’s what you need to know about your legal rights when protesting



“If you are at a demonstration and a police officer asks you questions, always ask ‘by virtue of what power’ they are asking you questions. Also take note of the officer’s shoulder number and what you are being told, in case you need to refer to it later, ”advises Manson. “If the police officer is not able to tell you under what authority he is asking the questions, you can just offer ‘no comment’ and walk away. You cannot be searched or arrested just for refusing to answer their questions.

That being said, if the police ask you for your name and address when they have reason to believe that you have engaged in or are engaging in antisocial behavior, refusing to give your name and address becomes a criminal offense and you might face stop. Never give out false information, as this could be seen as obstructing the police, an offense.

Learn your rights when stopping and searching

The laws that give the police the power to stop and search you may differ, but under normal circumstances authorities can only do so if they suspect that you are carrying drugs, a weapon, stolen property or a victim. object that could be used to commit a crime. Manson insists that the suspicion must be based on “reasonable grounds”. If the police stop you and search you, they must provide you with their name and police station, explain what they expect to find, the reasons for the search, and they must record the search (unless it is not practical to do so), of which you are then entitled to a copy if you request it within three months.

“If the police stop you and search you, they must do it fairly and respect your rights under the Equality Act 2010,” Manson said. “This means that they should not stop and search you solely because of your race, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, religion or faith.”

Note that in certain circumstances, section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 grants police permission to stop and search without suspicion, and without the aforementioned need for “reasonable grounds.” “. “Searches under Article 60 can only be carried out if they are authorized by a senior police officer who must have at least the rank of inspector,” the lawyer told us. “The clearance typically lasts 24 hours (although it can sometimes be extended) and can be used by police to search anyone at a specified location, for example the Notting Hill Carnival. These stop and search powers do not, however, give the police the right to demand your name and address. “

What to know about the arrest

The powers of arrest and detention are set out in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (often referred to as PACE). “This law explains when the police are allowed to arrest people and also when they can detain people,” Manson said. “PACE gives police the power to arrest anyone. They don’t need a warrant. But they must have “reasonable grounds” and the arrest must be “necessary”. PACE also allows the police to detain you at a police station if they suspect that you have committed a crime. But they can only hold you back for so long before they accuse you of something. You can be detained for 24 hours before charging you with a felony, the police can ask for permission to detain you for up to 36 or 96 hours if you are suspected of a serious crime such as murder, and you can be detained for 14 days without charge if you are arrested for terrorism-related offenses.



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