Police in London have been managing protest by Extinction Rebellion over the last three days, as well as managing the disruption caused to local communities. We have become increasingly concerned by the gatherings of large numbers of people which pose a risk, not only to those involved, but the wider public and communities of London.
Under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020 (as amended), no person may hold, be involved in holding or participate in a gathering which consists of more than 30 persons either indoors, on a vessel, or in a public outdoor place, unless certain exemptions apply.
There is an exemption for a gathering organised by certain types of body (such as a political body, business or a charity), having carried out a full risk assessment and taken all reasonable measures to limit the transmission of the virus.
Other exemptions apply to gatherings that are necessary for the purposes of work, providing emergency assistance or escaping the risk of harm. This statement does not contain all the provisions.
If you attend a gathering of more than 30 persons, you may be committing an offence, which is punishable by a fine. If you hold a gathering over 30 persons you might be committing an offence under new changes to the Regulations. It is also an offence to encourage others to unlawfully participate in a large gathering.
It is the responsibility of those wanting to attend/organise any large gathering to check the position and ensure they are not committing an offence. To find the regulations, look on line at www.legislation.gov.uk
The MPS has received a number of risk assessments produced by Extinction Rebellion for parts of the environmental change protest, and has commissioned a review of those, which has now been carried out by an appropriate body. The risk assessments provided to date do not meet the required standard.
The Met’s approach to policing the Coronavirus legislation has always been in accordance with the national policing approach, which is to engage, explain, encourage and only as a last resort enforce. Dedicated Police Liaison Teams are currently speaking to those associated with all demonstrations, explaining the situation and encouraging them to leave where it is believed the event falls foul of the restrictions on gatherings. Those who refuse will be liable to being reported for a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN).
The MPS is asking the organisers of these demonstrations to review and reassess their risk assessments and ensure they meet the requirements of the legislation.
We all need to continue to do our part to prevent the spread of the virus and the MPS would encourage anyone considering gathering in a group of more than 30 to consider making their voices heard in other ways.