Public assemblies – Protests, Marches, Processions and Celebrations (FAQ)

Frequently asked questions about public assemblies

Can the police ban public assemblies?
No. Police forces can not ban a public assembly.

Can the police apply any conditions to authorised assemblies and processions?
Yes but only if the following is reasonably believed that the public assemblies may result in:
- serious public disorder; and/or
- serious damage to property; and/or
- serious disruption to the life of the community or the intimidation of others.

What kind of conditions can the police apply?
The conditions the police apply have to be lawful, for a legitimate aim, necessary and proportionate. For example numbers, duration and location of the assembly.

How much does each public gathering cost the police?
Not one public assembly is the same and therefore cost can vary, depending on the resources required to ensure everyone’s safety.

What is mutual aid?
Mutual aid is a term that refers to officers/staff that have been drafted in from other forces to support an operation. Forces across the country have an agreement that they will support other Forces’ if it is required.

Is mutual aid always used in a police operation?
No. Mutual aid is called upon when we cannot maintain staffing levels in all areas of the business.

Does mutual aid cost more?
Yes. Where possible we will try to use SYP staff however there are some times we need to ask for support from other forces.

Who commands the police operation?
A specialist trained public order commander is assign to each public assembly. Depending on the size of the march/protest will depend on the level of Commander.

What are police liaison officers?
Police liaison officers (PLO) are specially trained officers who are dedicated to communicating with the organisers of any public gathering. PLO’s can be identified by a light blue tabard.

What tactics can the police use?
Police’s primary tactic is to negotiate with all those assembled to seek compromise. This will always be considered prior to any other action the police may take.

What is ‘kettling’?
A containment tactic that’s commonly known as kettling. Police would only use containment as a last resort when the risk of disorder/violence is high and no other options are available. The time in which people are contained has to be at a minimum.

Is there always riot police at public assembly?
No, it all depends on the details of the public assembly. The commander of the event will decide what types of police officers are required. Police in ‘riot’ clothing are known as a police support unit and is an option that can use.