The Metropolitan Police said 52 arrests had been made around the coronation for affray, public order offences, breach of the peace and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance.
The arrests at the coronation seem to have been preventative rather than evidential. A number of barristers have suggested that these arrests will not result in charges being laid simply because in the UK there is a human right to peaceful protest. The public order bill makes it easier to restrict the rights of public protest at high profile events and not to reduce criminal activity.
Graham Smith, head of Republic, was arrested and held for 16 hours. He alleged that the cause of his arrest was unclear although carrying a megaphone may have been one issue or carrying placards another. This is most worrying given the rules surrounding arrest procedure that the person arrested isn’t capable of knowing why they’ve been arrested. He was released without charge. Moreover, he understood that the police were both aware of their plans and had agreed to them prior to yesterday as long as they were both legal and respectful.
Members of the City of Westminster’s Night Stars Team were also arrested by the Met’s Territorial Support Group at 2am for possessing rape alarms. These volunteers hand them out to women at risk on the streets. Most were released without charge after being held for 14 hours without any apology although one was arrested for suspicion of handling stolen goods. Westminster Council is investigating these actions.
Environmental protesters were also arrested from Just Stop Oil for having placards saying “Not My King” and “Don’t you think this is a bit silly?” There were another 20 potential protesters including an NHS doctor and a man in his 70s who it is alleged was placed in the stress position.
Many politicians and other organisations both within the UK and across the world are calling for an investigation into these arrests. The use of arrest as a preventative measure is certainly one of great concern in what is intended to be a democracy. Is the solution to such encroachment on human rights a properly developed UK bill of rights?