Protest

Practical protest tips

Find out how to keep yourself and others safe at protests.

This information was correct as of 9 May 2022, but is subject to possible changes. We are in the process of preparing informational materials on the legal implications of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

This page sets out the law and guidance which is applicable in England only.

As of 19 July 2021, there are no legal restrictions on gathering indoors or outdoors. The previous ban on gatherings of more than 30 people outdoors, and the protest exemption, therefore no longer apply. If you are organising a protest or participating in one, there are no legally enforceable coronavirus-related restrictions.

What should I wear?

Wear non-distinctive, comfortable clothing and shoes. It is best to cover as much skin as possible, even if the weather is warm. Wear dark colours if possible, and if you have distinctive markings or tattoos, try to cover them. Wear something waterproof.

There is no legal requirement to wear a face mask, but you may choose to do so (preferably a non-distinctive or plain one). You may also wish to bring gloves and hand sanitiser. There is no legal requirement to socially distance from other people.

If you are on your period, wear pads instead of tampons as it may be difficult to access a toilet, and keep a spare on you.

It is best to leave jewellery – including necklaces earrings and bracelets – at home, to ensure they aren’t lost, damaged, or caught on anything.

Wear glasses instead of contact lenses.

What should I bring?

Bring hand sanitiser or wipes.

Bring water and snacks as you may be out for longer than you anticipate (and may be caught in a kettle for several hours).

It is strongly advisable to leave your phone at home and bring an old phone with essential numbers on it. If arrested, the police have the power to take your phone and search it for evidence. Make sure it is locked with a passcode and switch off any facial and fingerprint unlocking technology. You may wish to bring a portable phone charger if you have one.

Bring a notepad and pen to keep notes of any issues and the shoulder number of police officers.

Write key numbers on your arm (preferably under a sleeve). Include: an emergency contact, the number of the Green & Black Cross Protest Support line (London:  07946 541511 & Manchester: 07761 911121), and the number of a solicitor who you might want to contact in case you are arrested. If you get arrested it’s important to be able to get in touch with the people you need to – even if your phone is out of battery. It’s a good idea to write down a friend or family member’s number and keep it with you.

Keep a copy of emergency phone numbers and any medical information that someone may need to know. Keep medication that you may need (preferably in a prescription bottle) including inhalers if you are asthmatic.

You can bring earplugs and a washcloth, and bandages and first aid supplies such as plasters.

Don’t bring anything with you that you wouldn’t want to get arrested with.

Leave valuables at home. And don’t forget your protest placards, sign or banner!

What should I do?

If organising a protest, arrange for there to be legal observers (see details below) to monitor the police and provide legal support to protesters.

Be aware that you are not legally required (unless engaging in ‘anti-social’ behaviour) to respond to the police, if they ask you questions or start a conversation with you during a protest. Police Liaison Officers (wearing pale blue hi vis jackets) are trained to gather information about protesters/organisers by being friendly. You do not have to talk to them.

Arrange to arrive and leave with friends and plan your journey.

Arrange regular check-in processes. Keep each other safe.

Be mindful of the needs and vulnerabilities of marginalised protesters.

Be attentive and alert during protests. The situation can develop very quickly and it is important to be able to be responsive.

Who can support me?

Legal Representation

Always keep the number of a solicitor with special knowledge about protests on you.

The following solicitors have offered 24/7 support in London:

  • Commons Legal: 020 3865 5403
  • ITN Solicitors: 020 3909 8100
  • Hodge Jones & Allen: 0844 848 0222
  • Bindmans: 020 7305 5638

Liberty cannot provide representation if you have been arrested, but if you would like help and advice in other areas of protest law, please get in touch with our Advice and Information team.

Legal Observers & Arrestee Support

Legal observers are independent, legally-trained volunteers who monitor and record police conduct and provide legal information and support to organisers and protesters. You can approach them for information or support. They are easily recognisable at protests, wearing hi vis jackets with “LEGAL OBSERVER” written across the back. They will also be carrying bust cards with basic legal information about your protest rights and police powers, as well as helpful contact details of specialist protest lawyers.

Green & Black Cross (London-based) also operate a Protest Support Line. If you witness an arrest, want support or have legal questions about protest call GBC on 07946 541511 or email courtsupport@protonmail.com. If you are in Manchester, you can contact GBC Manchester on 07761 911121 or manchestergbc@riseup.net.

Black Protest Legal Support Group also offer Legal Observing. They are an independent group led by Black and Brown lawyers. You can contact them at: blackprotestlegal@protonmail.com.

Bristol Defendant Solidarity provide legal and practical support and solidarity to those arrested during protests. You can contact them (via the Signal app) on 07510 283424 or bristoldefendantsolidarity@riseup.net.

What are my rights on this?

Find out more about your rights and how the Human Rights Act protects them

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