Under the Human Rights Act everybody has a freedom of expression and a freedom of thought and assembly. This means that everybody has a right to a peaceful protest and no restrictions shall be placed on this unless it is in the interests of national security, public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime or for the protection of health.
However, there are some offences that are commonly linked to protesting, these are:
For example, if a group of protestors trespasses on land where genetically modified crops are being grown, whilst the farmer is on the land, then they commit the offence of aggravated trespass.
Penalty - imprisonment and/or fine.
For example, if a group of taxi drivers are protesting over the price of petrol and are driving slow through a city centre during rush hour traffic.
Penalty - a fine only.
To serve such a notice, the senior police officer must believe that the event may result in serious public disorder, serious damage to property, disruption to community life or that the purpose of the event is to intimidate others into not doing an act they have a right to do, or into doing an act they have a right not to do.
Penalty - imprisonment and/or a fine.
For example a group of protestors have gathered in the middle of a town centre and are chanting and becoming very rowdy and abusive causing the shoppers to fear that they will be harmed in some way.
Penalty - to be bound over to keep the peace for a specified amount of time.
Penalty - a fine.
The Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network (NHW) is the official national overarching body for all schemes within England & Wales, providing support for all NHW scheme members. You can enter your postcode on their website (see Related Information) to find your nearest scheme. You can also send your local scheme a message via the site.
If there is not a scheme in your local area and you want to set one up, please refer to the website in Related Information for more details on this and other matters relating to Neighbourhood Watch.
Neighbourhood Watch schemes are very popular and many insurance companies offer a discount on home insurance if you are a member of a scheme.