Public Order Act - Exam Guidance

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HUMAN RIGHTS LAW

Public order law

Seminar support materials (for seminars on 28 November & 5 December 2011)

This handout contains a question from the 2009 exam paper, along with two student answers to the question. The answers are very good. But they do have flaws, so use them to guide you, but don’t take them as setting the highest standard. The support materials have been provided to help you assess your own approach to problem questions in general. It is recommended that you study these materials before you draft your answer to the problem question on the seminar sheet. There’s also a guidance sheet on Blackboard (Course Materials > public order law), giving tips for approaching public order law problem questions.

When you read the students’ answers, think about the approach the students have taken. Remember that problem questions test reasoning skills. So, does each student make thorough use of the facts given in the scenario? Does s/he give reasons for her/ his conclusions on issues? Is relevant statute and case authority provided for statements of rules and principles, and to support conclusions on the scenario facts?

May 2009 exam question

The group CORN (Campaign for Our Rights Now!) planned a demonstration in London for 14 May. Protesters marched to Hyde Park and then held a rally to demand more government support for those working in the countryside. The police were expecting large numbers to attend, as the event had been well publicised.

An opposing group, FOX (Fox-cubs Orphaned at Xmas!), was determined to disrupt the CORN event. Ali, FOX’s leader, decided to hold two separate actions so that the police would find it more difficult to control FOX’s members: a counter-march and an interference with CORN’s rally.

WPC Wall, who dislikes anti-hunt protesters, was supervising the CORN march. A large group of FOX protesters appeared, walking towards the countryside demonstrators. Constable Wall ordered the FOX marchers to disperse; they refused. She then instructed Ali to give her the names of the marchers; when he refused to do so, she arrested him.

At the CORN rally sometime later, some members of FOX ran on to the stage. One of them, Beth, grabbed a microphone from a CORN speaker and told the crowd, “We know where a lot of you live and we’re warning you to stop hunting! If you don’t stop killing innocent foxes, you should be very afraid!” Tim, the rally organiser, pushed Beth off the stage. Witnessing this, Dave (a FOX member) shook his fist at Tim and shouted, “Right, you’ve had it!” and with two other FOX members he began climbing onto the stage. PC Yeo, who was standing near the stage, released his police dog, shouting: “Go on boy, get them, bite them!” In response, Faisal, aged 12, directed a swear word at PC Yeo, who later claimed to have been “distressed” by the boy’s language.

Consider whether any persons have committed public order offences.

Student 1 answer

Plan
Groups – CORN – planned – s 11 complied
* FOX – not planned – s 11 – Ali

Orders – s 12 – Order 1 – disperse
* most senior officer?
* Triggers?
* Proportionate?

Second order – names (same as above)

Violence s 1 – 4. Also lesser charges.

Beth – s 4 – causing fear or provocation of violence – Jordan v Burgoyne

Tim – s 3 – affray

Dave – s 2 – violent disorder – R v Hebron

PC Yeo – s 3 – affray – R v Dixon

Faisal – s 4A intention to cause harassment alarm distress

This question relates to offences under the Public Order Act 1986. This amended the 1936 POA, due to the inner city riots and miners’ strike at the time. The POA 1986 extended police powers in the areas of marches and assembly.

The organisers of the group Corn will not be charged with any offence under s 11 as the question highlights that the police were expecting large numbers, so therefore they were aware of the march.

The opposing group, Fox, have failed to comply with s 11, as we are not...
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