Last month during the London-wide protests organised by environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion, Superintendent McMillan of the Metropolitan Police announced that protesters were to be limited to Trafalgar Square, under Section 14 of the Public Order Act. At the time, it was understood that any member of the public who failed to comply with these conditions would run the risk of being arrested and prosecuted.
Seven claimants challenged the police ban and the High Court has announced their judgement today. Lord Justice Dingemans and Mr Justice Chamberlain has stated that the Met had no power to impose the ban as “Separate gatherings … both in time and by many miles… are not a public assembly within the meaning of… the Act. The XR autumn uprising intended to be held from October 14 to 19 was not therefore a public assembly… therefore the decision to impose the condition was unlawful because there was no power to impose it under… the Act.”
This decision may result in the Metropolitan Police being inundated with claims for false imprisonment by members of the public who were arrested for breaching the ban. A false imprisonment claim requires two elements: confinement, and the lack of lawful excuse for detention. The second of these elements would be made out for any protesters imprisoned under the Met Police’s ban.
For any assistance with complaints and actions against the police, including claims for false imprisonment, please do not hesitate to contact our Actions against the Police team.