HC Deb 05 May 2000 vol 349 cc223-4W
Dr. Jack Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what powers he has to ban demonstrations by individuals and organisations with records of violent conduct, destruction of property and vandalism; and if he will make a statement. [121000]

Mr. Straw

Under section 13 of the Public Order Act 1986, a chief officer of police may apply to the district council for an order prohibiting marches or processions which he reasonably believes may result in serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to the life of the community. Such an order requires my consent. In London, the Commissioners of Police may apply direct to me as Home Secretary for such consent. The chief officer may also attach conditions to such marches and to public assemblies. There is no power to prohibit peaceful public assemblies.

Section 14A of the 1986 Act similarly enables a chief officer to apply for and order prohibiting trespassory assemblies within a specified area, if he reasonably believes that such an assembly may result in serious disruption to the life of the community or in significant damage to land or buildings of historical, architectural, archaeological or scientific importance. This power applies only to areas to which the public has no right of access or only to a limited right of access.

Such bans do not apply to specified individuals or groups, but in considering applications I will give due weight to the police assessment of the potential for disorder or disruption to the community, including any available information on the groups likely to be involved.