QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
MR JUSTICE OUSELEY
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Mr G Gelbart (instructed by The Crown Prosecution Service) for the Defendant
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MR JUSTICE OUSELEY :
"Critical Mass is not an organisation but the name given to a recurrent event. It takes place in central London on the evening of the last Friday of every month, as it has done since April 1994. Similar events take place on the last Friday of every month in many other cities throughout the world. Critical Mass starts at the same location, (the South Bank near the National Theatre) at the same time (6 pm). It is featured in Time Out magazine. It is in the nature of Critical Mass that there is no fixed, settled or predetermined route, end-time or destination; where Critical Mass goes, where and what time it ends are all things which are chosen by the actions of the participants on the day."
The statutory provisions
"(1) If the senior police officer, having regard to the time or place at which and the circumstances in which any public procession is being held or is intended to be held and to its route or proposed route, reasonably believes that-
(a) it may result in serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to the life of the community, or(b) the purpose of the persons organising it is the intimidation of others with a view to compelling them not to do an act they have a right to do, or to do an act they have a right not to do,
he may give directions imposing on the persons organising or taking part in the procession such conditions as appear to him necessary to prevent such disorder, damage, disruption or intimidation, including conditions as to the route of the procession or prohibiting it from entering any public space specified in the directions.
In subsection (1) "the senior police officer" means-
(a) In relation to a procession being held, or to a procession intended to be held in a case where persons are assembling with a view to taking part in it, the most senior in rank of the police officers present at the scene, and(b) In relation to a procession intended to be held in a case where paragraph (a) does not apply, the chief office of police.(c) A direction given by a chief officer of police by virtue of subsection (2)(b) shall be given in writing.
(5) A person who takes part in a public procession and knowingly fails to comply with a condition imposed under this section is guilty of an offence, but it is a defence for him to prove that the failure arose from circumstances beyond his control."
This is an arrestable offence, punishable by a fine.
"(1) Written notice shall be given in accordance with this section of any proposal to hold a public procession intended—
(a) to demonstrate support for or opposition to the views or actions of any person or body of persons,(b) to publicise a cause or campaign, or(c) to mark or commemorate an event,
unless it is not reasonably practicable to give any advance notice of the procession.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply where the procession is one commonly or customarily held in the police area (or areas) in which it is proposed to be held or is a funeral procession organised by a funeral director acting in the normal course of his business.
(3) The notice must specify the date when it is intended to hold the procession, the time when it is intended to start it, its proposed route, and the name and address of the person (or of one of the persons) proposing to organise it."
The issue in the appeal
The question for the opinion of this Court is:
"(2) Was I right to conclude that the requirement within section 12(1) of the Act that the senior police officer consider the "route or proposed route" of the public procession was satisfied where the officer has considered the route even where the route was likely to be spontaneous and unpredictable?"
The focus on "proposed route"
Must a "proposed route" within s12 be one which has been notified to the police under s11?
Can a route which is chosen spontaneously by participants while the procession is being held be a "proposed route"?
"(i) the notification obligation does not apply to a procession that has no predetermined route;
(ii) there is no obligation to give notice of a procession that has no predetermined route because it is not reasonably practicable to comply with section 11(1);
(iii) the notification obligation is satisfied if a notice is given that states that the route will be chosen spontaneously."
Lord Justice Goldring: