8. "Anti-Social Behaviour" - Section 50 of Police Reform Act

If you are suspected of anti-social behaviour, the police can demand your details under Section 50. Refusing to give your details is a criminal offence, and you can be arrested.

The police’s own guidance states that Section 50 powers should not be used on protests.
A police officer demanding someone’s details under Section 50 powers needs to have a reasonable belief that a protest is not covered by the protection of the right to freedom of assembly under the Human Rights Act – and should not immediately and wrongly jump to the conclusion that any unlawful acts are “violence”. The right to freedom of assembly exists even when a protest is clearly in breach of the law: for example, obstructing traffic as part of a demonstration is conduct that is, by itself, considered peaceful.
Your individual right to freedom of assembly is not altered by actions committed by others.  A police officer demanding someone’s details needs to have a reasonable belief a protester’s individual conduct – rather than the conduct of others – is anti-social behaviour.
Overwhelmingly, most protests involving civil disobedience and direct action are protected by the right to freedom of assembly and are not anti-social behaviour.
This is why we continue to argue that protesters should resist the misuse of Section 50 powers. You can do this by refusing to give your name if asked to under section 50.
However, how a police officer should act and what happens in practice is never predictable and Section 50, like most police powers, is open to abuse.

Key Messages

Coronavirus

COVID-19 has lead to changes in policing & protest law which may affect the information in this guide. Please also read our guide to Coronavirus & Protest Law.

  • No Comment
  • You do not need to answer police questions, so don’t.

  • No Personal Details
  • You don't have to give details under ANY stop and search power.

  • No Duty Solicitor
  • Use a recommended solicitor with protest experience.

  • No Caution
  • They admit guilt for an alleged offence that might never get to court.

  • What Power?
  • Ask "What power?" to challenge a police officer to act lawfully.

Coronavirus

COVID-19 has lead to changes in policing & protest law which may affect the information in this guide. Please also read our guide to Coronavirus & Protest Law.

Key Messages

  • No Comment
  • You do not need to answer police questions, so don’t.

  • No Personal Details
  • You don't have to give details under ANY stop and search power.

  • No Duty Solicitor
  • Use a recommended solicitor with protest experience.

  • No Caution
  • They admit guilt for an alleged offence that might never get to court.

  • What Power?
  • Ask "What power?" to challenge a police officer to act lawfully.

Elsewhere