Call Out for Evidence – #occupydemocracy

Occupy London are calling out for evidence and witness statements from those who attended the #occupydemocracy protest in Parliament Square between the 17th and 26th October. Those of you who attended at some point will have been aware of the escalating police presence, the erection of fencing and a number of arrests that were made at different points throughout the week.

We are asking for those who attended the protest to give a statement detailing their experience. You can do this through the form provided through the link at the bottom of this page.

We would like to know:

  • Why you went to the #occupydemocracy protest.
  • When you first arrived. Did you return? If so, when?
  • What happened whilst you were there. Try to be as detailed as you can – referring to times if possible.
  • What you took from the time that you were there.
If you were arrested during your time at the protest, or if you observed anyone actually being arrested, we would like to know:
  • The date and time of the arrest(s).
  • What happened on the run up to the arrest(s).
  • Whether there was any interaction between you and the police prior to, during or after the arrest(s)- what was said?
  • Describe the arrest and police tactics during the arrests. If you know who was arrested please provide their name(s).
If you have any photos of video of the arrest(s) please provide links to these in the relevant boxes.

Most of those arrested were arrested for failing to comply with a bye-law. This bye-law doesn’t actually include a power of arrest but does require a person to give a name and address if an authorised person has reasonable grounds to believe that person is in breach of a bye-law. The Police do have the power to arrest if a person doesn’t give these details. The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 (PRSRA) also makes it an offence to fail to comply with a direction given by the Police Officer or other authorised persons to remove tents or equiptment that might assist in sleeping.

Powers under the bye-law and PRSRA are discretionary and should only be used when it is deemed necessary and proportionate. Case law, most recently the Gallastegui case in 2012, found that this discretion under PRSRA, whilst only exercised in exceptional circumstances, should be available if there is a compelling enough reason. [1]

Your statements and evidence will help us challenge whether the Police response to #occupydemocracy was necessary and proportionate. It may also help us argue that such a response was an unjustified interference with the right to protest.

All statements and evidence submitted will be kept private and will only be accessible by those at Occupy London who are working to collate it, Green and Black Cross and the legal teams working on the various defence cases. If the statement or evidence you give is of particular interest to the legal teams they may contact you for further information.

If you would like to give a statement, or submit evidence, please visit witness.occupylondon.org.uk

Please make sure you change the date and time below the Statement Description box so it reflects the date and time the Statement relates to. Also, tick any categories relevant to your statement.

We appreciate your help with this,

Kind Regards,

Matthew Varnham

Legal Advisor, Occupy London

[1] Paragraph 23, http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/markup.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2013/28.html&query=Gallastegui&method=boolean

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