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UK police powers - info re Section 60

summary and info from Wombleaction

extracts from Butterworths Police Law, 5th ed

lawyer's eye-witness report of S60 in action



Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2001 15:50:38 +0100
To: rts@gn.apc.org
From: ALLSORTS (allsorts@gn.apc.org)
Subject: -ALLSORTS-Murder in Genoa, detention in London

Section 60 - can anyone verify that this is accurate?
I know that quite a lot of it was ignored last night when cops were told that what they were doing was illegal.


Please forward this to any lists you can in anticipation of the demo tomorrow!! It's originally from Wombleaction. Thanks.

The S60 order is a new police tactic at major demonstrations used effectively to control, subdue and gain personal information about protesters despite having the extraordinarily limited power simply to "Stop and search in anticipation of violence". Its effectiveness in the past was due to the fact that no-one knew just exactly what powers the police had under S60. As it turns out, they have very few powers. In the event of an S60 order being issued, these are the important things to remember -

1. The police have the power to search you for weapons (and dangerous instruments). They have no other powers under S60. They can only detain you "for as long as necessary to carry out a search".

2. They have no legal power to force you to give them your name and address. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES give it to them - it will be kept on file for SEVEN years. When asked, say "NO COMMENT".

3. They have no legal power to force you to have your photograph taken. Do not allow them to do this. This too will be kept on file for SEVEN years. Keep your head turned away, or put your hand in front of your face.

4. They have no legal power to ask you to remove any item of clothing in public view, OTHER THAN that which is concealing your identity. Any facial masking can be confiscated. If you are asked to remove coats/jumpers etc, REFUSE OUTRIGHT.

5. They have no legal power to search wallets, purses, inside small pockets etc. This is an S60 search, for weapons only. If they ask to search wallets, purses, inside small pockets etc, REFUSE OUTRIGHT.

6. If you have a bag they will search that, but again for weapons only. Any other items, documents, potentially incriminating articles are OFF LIMITS. Do not allow them to examine any of your personal possessions (cash cards, student cards, diaries, organisers etc). This is not part of S60.

Under Article 8 of the UK Human Rights Act 1998 your privacy is assured. Make sure they know this. They can only confiscate weapons and facial masking.

7. They have the power to use "reasonable force" but ONLY if you do not submit to a search. No other force can be used for any other purpose.

8. They must tell you their name, number, station they're based at the reason for the search. Ask them for this. Not only will it piss them, off but if they don't provide this information the search will be illegal.

Remember - in an S60 situation, you are accused of nothing and you have done nothing wrong.
DO NOT ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS, however insignificant or polite.
Say "NO COMMENT" to everything.
Most of all, DON'T BE SCARED BY THEM!
They know the law, and now so do you - USE IT!



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Date: Tue, 24 Jul 2001 16:06:12 +0100
To: rts@gn.apc.org
From: ALLSORTS (allsorts@gn.apc.org)
Subject: -ALLSORTS-mixed news July 24th

sent in by Manchester Earth First!
mancef@nematode.freeserve.co.uk

Section 60

[all below from Butterworths Police Law, 5th ed. - "this splendid book...a must for all police officers" - the Police Journal]

Powers to stop and search in anticipation of violence

The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, s.60 provided further powers to stop and search. It provides that where a police officer of the rank of superintendent reasonably believes that a) incidents involving serious violence may take place in any locality in his area, and b) it is expedient to do so to prevent their occurence, he may give an authorisation that the powers to stop and search persons and vehicles conferred by the section shall be exercisable at any place within that locality for a period not exceeding 24 hours.

The authorisation may be extended once only for a further six hours, where expedient, having regard to offences committed, or reasonably suspected to have been committed, in connection with the incident. Thereafter further use of the powers requires a new authorisation. An authorisation maybe be given by a chief inspector or inspector who reasonably believes that incidents involving serious violence are imminent and no superintendent is available.

Such authorisations must be in writing and must specify the locality and the duration of their validity. If it is not practicable to do this at the time it must be done as soon as possible. It is for the authorising officer to determine the period of time in which he proposes to exercise these powers. It shall be the minimum period he considers necessary to deal with the risk of violence.

Police powers

Where such an authorisation is in force a constable in uniform is empowered:

a) to stop any pedestrian and search him and anything carried by him, for offensive weapons or dangerous instruments;

b) to stop any vehicle and search the vehicle, its driver and any passenger for offensive weapons or dangerous instruments.

These stops and searches may be carried out whether or not the constable in question has any grounds for suspecting that the person or vehicle is carrying weapons or articles of that kind. A constable may seize any dangerous instrument or weapon which he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be an offensive weapon. A 'dangerous instrument' is one which has a blade or is sharply pointed; a vehicle includes a 'caravan'; and an 'offensive weapon' is as defined by s. 9(1) of the 1984 Act.

A driver of a vehicle which has been stopped is entitled to obtain a written statement to that effect, if he applies within 12 months. The same rights apply to pedestrians.

A person who fails to stop or (as the case may be) to stop his vehicle when required to do so by a constable exercising these powers, commits an offence.

Factors for consideration

It is probable that courts will require proof of the non-availability of a superintendent where an authorisation is given by some other person. However, no preference is expressed in relation to the alternative of a chief inspector or inspector. The powers relate to incidents which may take place and it is submitted that the incidents with which the section is concerned are incidents of serious personal violence. The section refers to instruments etc which might be used in such incidents, not in incidents directed against property. 'Locality' is not defined and this was intentional, as the extent of a 'locality' will differ in relation to the nature of the incident. An anticipated serious disorder at a pub would be in a small 'locality' whilst one within a housing estate would be in an extensive 'locality'. Provided that thought has been given to defining the locality, and this can be proved, a court is unlikely to rule that the authorisation was invalid. The authorising officer should not set a geographical area which is wider than he believes necessary for the purpose of preventing anticipated violence.

'Expediency' may involve consideration of the effectiveness of other powers, and the resources available to deal with the type of incidents which may arise. Provided that such judgments are made in good faith, a court is unlikely to intefere.

[and from Stop and Search Code...]

The co-operation of the person to be searched must always be sought, even if he initially objects to being searched. A forcible search may be made only if it has been established that the person is unwilling to co-operate (eg by opening a bag) or resists. Reasonable force may be used as a last resort but only if this is necessary to detain the person or to search him....

A constable is not authorised under s.1 of the 1984 Act, or under any other power of stop and search, to require a person to remove any of his clothing in public other than an outer coat, jacket or gloves. However, there is nothing to prevent a constable from asking a person to remove more than outer clothing in public. The Stop and Search Code restricts searches in public to a 'superficial examination of outer clothing'....[if grounds for more extensive search, must be in van or cop shop, and by same sex & not with opposite sex present...]


top of page   |   Wombleaction   |   Butterworths Police Law

well that's the theory...

murder in Genoa, detention in London

by Raif 4:16pm Sun Jul 22 '01
address: Coalition Against the Terrorism Act - ta2000@go.to

Detailed eye witness report from a lawyer held in the cordon and then searched by police at the demonstration outside the Italian Embassy in London on Sunday night. Also includes comment on the fact it seems police are automatically using this tactic when a demo includes anti-capitalists. Hours after the murder in Genoa, fliers announcing a demonstration outside the Italian Embassy at 6pm on Sunday 22 July started circulating I picked one up at the Respect anti-racism festival. Turning up expecting a handful of people, I was well impressed to find a lot more. By 6.30pm there are well over a hundred gathered at the back entrance (Three Kings Yard, W1) to the Embassy. Crowd control barriers have been placed to enclose the demonstration and these were used to hang posters with anti-G8 slogans on. There is a lively mix of people, including a number of Italians and Spanish. Chants, though there weren't that many, included "Death in Italy, death to the state!" and some things in Italian. There are about five police vans but all the police are good humoured.

At around 7pm, people move round to the Grosvenor Square side of the embassy. While there are some on the pavement next to the entrance, most people gathered in the road to shout "Berlusconi, assessini" etc. By this time there are about 200 protesters. At 7.10pm people move onto Grovesnor Street on the South side of the square. Some started running and were chased by the police. A window pane in the Canadian Embassy is smashed apparently. The police try to move people along, pushing and jostling violently without warning those who they consider are not fast enough. Despite everything being entirely good-natured the police then form a cordon round most of the protesters. There is no effort to try to separate the peaceful protesters from the 'others', indeed it would be hard as it is a peaceful demonstration, full of peaceful people shocked at the brutality of the Italian police.

At 7.23pm I observe two constables with their extendable batons drawn, for no apparent reason, and indeed they do not retract them for a few minutes. At 7.27pm I overhear a Superintendent telling other officers that a Section 60 (Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994) order was now in force. This means everyone being held could be searched for offensive weapons. I ask a sergeant why I am being held and he informs me it's to prevent a breach of the peace. He mentions the broken window pane as a reason when I ask in relation to which property or persons the breach of the peace feared to be committed. By this time three police vans are parked across the west side of the road, and six more are parked on the North side behind them.

At 7.36pm, police on the East side start putting flack jackets on despite no noticeable change in the mellow vibe of the crowd: people seem a bit annoyed, almost incredulous at what was going on, but continue chatting with each other. One person does a Jedi impression using a tooth brush as a light sabre, to jeers of it being one of the infamous samurai swords that masked anarchists were supposed to bring along to Mayday. I see a box of eggs and other food being taken away by police in case they are used as weapons: earlier a pen knife was removed from someone. Reinforcements arrive and move down behind the cordon on the south side of the street there are no police on the north side. On the other side of the cordon on the south side there are a couple of protesters and local residents standing next to the wall. Police form a funnel and start to let people out slowly.

I make an announcement about everyone's legal rights, some of which is translated into Italian and Spanish: not only is this the fifth time I've been detained in this way, [but I am also] a barrister (advocate lawyer). A police photographer is pointed to someone who he photographs. Meanwhile police 'video down', i.e. point a video camera up then and down, a woman being searched. I get photographed five times in rapid succession when I turn round. No one is allowed to leave without being searched extremely thorourghly. However, most of the police who are not making up the cordon are standing around chatting and laughing so meaning only two people are being searched at any time. Reminds me of the one Spanish official checking passports of those trying to get into Gilbraltar.

The first announcement comes at 8.03pm on a loudspeaker. "You are being held to prevent a breach of the peace. Every effort is being made to release you as quickly as possible. You will be searched and then escorted out." Despite there being five police vans on the east side now, no doubt many more down back streets, there are still only two people being searched so much for 'every effort'. Some people want to refuse to move unless everyone is released at once. However most others want to leave and come back another day. At 8.08 a relaxed Chief Superintendent arrives and another announcement is made at 8.10. One person queuing to get out told some Spanish who were trying to get past that despite the situation, they were in England and would still have to queue, which raised a few smiles among the police. Actually the Spanish were having their squat raided by the police co-ordinated action? so it was understandable they want to return home.

Shortly after I proceed through the funnel and am searched by four members of the Territorial Support Group (TSG - riot police but not in full riot gear today). I give them a special warning under the s6 Human Rights Act 1998 saying they are breaching my right (Article 8) to privacy. They search in my pockets taking everything out, including my wallet. When they start looking at all my cards, I object and am then put in an arm lock by a sergeant and not allowed to see them search my wallet. All the contents are dropped on the floor. One of my hands is removed from my pocket despite my pockets already having been searched. They're searched again then to show who's in charge. A constable searches in my socks and between my belt and my underwear. I complain but he claims he can search under my clothes as long as they are not totally removed in public. My bike pannier is searched thoroughly, and my bike even under the saddle. Fortunately they don't decide to strip it down to look for semtex inside the tubes.

I am then escorted out to Berkley Square. One of the TSG tells me to "Get a fucking life." and then "If I ever see you again, I'll give you a right treat". I then run into a journalist from The Guardian [biggest UK left-'leaning' broadsheet newspaper] who has just been called out from the office and to whom I try to tell all let's hope they put something good in tomorrow. I was a bit stressed and decide to go home and write this up rather than stay around and see what happened to the others.

comment / rant

Like many I was shocked by the murder in Genoa. While I feel the 20 year old military policeman was somewhat to blame, I'm worried his being charged for manslaughter will distract the attention from those higher up. Putting live ammunition into the hands of young conscripts barely through basic training in such a situation is clearly gross negligence and should be charged as such. Not only should heads roll, senior members of the Caribinieri should be sent to prison. As if.

What really made me go to this demonstration, what aroused my sense of responsibility was the City Ordnance denying all detainees in Genoa the right to a lawyer for the first 48 hours and the trashing of the volunteer lawyers' area of the Genoa Social Forum. Even under the UK's new Terrorism Act, the police have to offer reasons in individual cases, however easy that may be, to deny access to lawyers. And having acted as a legal observer and adviser at many UK actions I felt I should show solidarity with those who had lost their notes and been attacked for merely trying to uphold the law. The events in Genoa, and now London, show that the forces of the G8 prefer there to be no evidence or reports to contradict theirs; the scales of justice have been fixed firmly in their favour.

It really does seem that breach of the peace cordon combined with a s60 search order is automatic where there is an anti-capitalist demonstration. The police got so much favourable publicity after their performance at Mayday that they feel they can use these tactics freely. While in the 80s, miners were stopped going to secondary pickets hundreds of miles from collieries, the breach of the peace power has now been reinterpreted to create an incredibly draconian power. In other countries this would have to go through Parliament and be subject to democratic scrutiny. However, here the indeterminacy of the common law, and this part dates back to the fourteenth century, combined with the hassle of and time taken to sue the police. Clearly, through media hype, the words 'anti-capitalist', 'rioter' and 'anarchist' have become synonymous for the police so they can safely presume anyone at an anti-capitalist is a trouble maker and can be dealt with as such. What matters now is how much the courts follow this view when they examine the legality of the police tactics at Mayday. The police attitude is that they can interpret the law as they feel is reasonable until there is a court case interpreting the law differently. The police I spoke to could not see why I was unhappy with being searched. Despite me telling I should have nothing to fear. Police saying they're just following the law on their interpretation can't see why it's unreasonable. Who would like their wallet/purse opened onto the pavement by strangers? Let alone being held for an hour by riot police.

While I totally understand why people are angry given the last few days, it does seem stupid to let them smash a window. What is gained from random, unplanned damage apart from the venting of people's anger? So Canada is a member of the G8 and I only need mention Quebec to comment on their police but is it really worth giving the police the excuse to detain, harass and take down the details of everyone else there? A lot of those detained were angry that the police had been able to cordon everyone in. Certainly, and particularly in the narrow streets of central London, we need to be far more careful if we are not to be shut in again and again.

NB I have a fuller version of these notes including police numbers. If you are issuing a claim against the Metropolitan Police I can send it to you. I am finally going to get round to doing one.

email - ta2000@go.to


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