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Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003

Section 57: Public assemblies

122.Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 gives a senior police officer power to impose conditions on public assemblies. Before doing so, he must reasonably believe that serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to the life of the community might result, or that the purpose of a demonstration is the intimidation of others with a view to compelling them to act in a particular way. Conditions include the location of the assembly, its maximum duration or the maximum number of persons who may constitute it. At present these provisions only apply to groups of 20 or more persons.

123.Section 57 amends the definition of public assembly in section 16 of the Public Order Act 1986 from “20 or more persons” to “2 or more persons” so that the powers in that Act to impose conditions on public assemblies apply to groups of two or more people. The requirement for a senior officer to hold beliefs described in the previous paragraph is unchanged.

124.The section would not affect peaceful picketing by members of a trade union at their place of work. Picketing is protected by section 220 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 which makes lawful certain activities done for the purpose of peacefully obtaining or communicating information or of peacefully persuading a person to work or not to work.

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