Demonstrating Respect for Rights?

A Human Rights Approach to Policing Protest

Published: March 2009

This 2009 report, prepared by the Human Rights Joint Committee of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, discusses the legal framework for peaceful protests in the UK and presents recommendations for reform.

The report considers the balance struck in law and in practice between the rights of the different groups involved in peaceful protest and make recommendations aimed at ensuring that the rights to freedom of assembly and expression are fully respected.

Prior to drafting the report, the Committee issued a call for evidence on 24 April 2008 seeking evidence on the following issues:

  • the proportionality of legislative measures to restrict protest or peaceful assembly;
  • existing powers available to the police and their use in practice; and
  • reconciling competing interests of public order and protest.

The Committee received 49 memoranda, of which 21 were from individuals and 28 from organisations.

The Committee also held four formal evidence sessions, hearing from civil society organizations, police bodies, protestors and those affected by protests, such as targets and journalists. At our third session, on 25 November 2008, we heard from representatives from various police bodies.