Demonstrations guide

Information on and guides to organising and participating in demonstrations, marches, pickets and other similar activities safely and effectively.

Submitted by Steven. on October 13, 2004

Being Trans and Protesting

This guide outlines key rights and advice for trans people attending protests. We hope that this guide will support you in knowing your rights, so you can make informed decisions about how and when you take action. This guide was compiled by Green and Black Cross.

Submitted by R Totale on June 22, 2020

You have the right to have your gender recognised. This guide outlines other key rights and advice for trans people attending protests.

Transphobia is rife in society. This can mean that some trans people do not wish to put themselves at risk of having to interact with the state – through having to interact with the police – by going on demonstrations. Fear can therefore keep people off the streets: know your rights so you can understand the risks.

We hope that this guide will support you in knowing your rights, so you can make informed decisions about how and when you take action.

This guide covers:

1 Your rights under the Equality Act
2 Our key messages
3 Being stop & searched
4 Being arrested

We know that gender and how people are gendered can be complex and contradictory. The following will not be completely comprehensive.

Please email us at [email protected] with any comments, questions or suggestions.


1. Your Rights Under the Equality Act

Submitted by R Totale on June 22, 2020

The actions of the police during stop and search and arrest procedures are governed by the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) codes. These are informed by the Equality Act 2010.

Gender reassignment is defined in the Equality Act as a “personal, social and sometimes medical process”. Therefore, even if the state does not officially recognise your gender, and you do not have it on your documents, your gender should be protected when being stopped and searched or arrested, because gender reassignment – defined as a “personal, social and sometimes medical process” – is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act.

UK law is currently unclear about non-binary people. This does not mean that if you are non-binary you need not be assertive about your gender if you wish.

No police officer has the right to ask you whether you have a Gender Recognition Certificate.

The law is (unsurprisingly) still transphobic – Annex L of the PACE codes, which explicitly addresses gender reassignment, says that police officers should ask you your gender and respect it, unless your “predominant lifestyle” is different from what officers decide. This does not mean you cannot insist on having your gender recognised.


2. Key Messages - Being Trans and Protesting

Submitted by R Totale on June 22, 2020

If you’re heading out on a protest, take a read of our key messages and download a copy of our latest bustcard.

We suggest that you take a note of our arrestee support number and of a criminal solicitor with protest experience. Write them down on something the police will struggle to take from you, such as an arm or a leg.

Arrestee Support: 07946 541 511

Solicitor with protest experience

Key Messages

- No Comment
- No Personal Details
- Under What Power?
- No Duty Solicitor
- No Caution?

1. No Comment

You are not obliged to speak to the police on demonstrations.

They want to gather information about you, your friends and other people on the demonstration. You can and should say “No Comment” to them. If arrested, you do not need to answer police questions, so don’t. This is for your own protection and for the protection of others. The police will try to pressure and deceive you into incriminating yourself. Instead of trying to decide when it seems ‘safe’ to answer, just say “No comment” to all questions – during ‘informal chats’, in the police van, and especially in interview.

However, if you have been arrested and have been taken to the police station you may wish to give your name, address and date of birth at the custody desk to speed up your release.

Under new changes, if you are arrested you are now also obliged to tell the police your nationality – but only if they have good reason to suspect you are not a British National.

You may also wish to speak to the cops if you are trans and being forced to interact with them (e.g. if you are being stopped and searched or arrested) and they are misgendering you. You have the right to insist that your gender be recognised.

UK law is currently unclear about non-binary people. However, government policy documents refer to nonbinary people, and therefore by extension you can insist that your gender be respected.

If possible, just don’t engage with the police. No comment.

2. No Personal Details

You are not obliged to give your details under any stop and search power. This includes your name, your address, and your gender.

If you are being stopped and searched, ‘non-intimate’ searches (i.e. ‘pat-downs’ – being physically touched by an officer outside of your clothes) can be done by officers of any gender, but you have the right to ask to be searched by an officer of the same gender as you, and if it is ‘reasonably practicable’ this should be done. Therefore if you are being misgendered you can insist on being treated as your gender.

If you are non-binary, because the police only have to provide someone of the same gender as you ‘where reasonably practicable’, it is very unlikely you will be physically searched by a non-binary officer. This doesn’t mean you needn’t request this if you wish.

3. Under What Power

If the police are demanding that you do certain things, ask “Am I legally obliged to do so?” then if they say yes, “Under What Power?” The police must have a legal basis for their actions. You can ask them “under what power” are they doing things.

4. No Duty Solicitor

The “duty solicitor” is the solicitor who is present at the police station.

They may come from any firm of solicitors, which means they almost certainly know nothing about protest.

Duty solicitors often give bad advice to protesters; we recommend you always use a good solicitor who knows about protest.

Irvine Thanvi Natas (ITN): 020 8522 7707
Hodge Jones Allen (HJA): 0800 437 0322
Bindmans: 020 7833 4433
Kellys (outside London): 01273 674 898

5. No Caution

Offering you a caution is a way the police may ask you to admit guilt for an offence without having to charge you.

It is an easy win for the police, as they don’t have to provide any evidence or convince a court of your guilt.

At the very least, you should never accept a caution without taking advice from a good solicitor.


3. Being Stop & Searched

Submitted by R Totale on June 22, 2020

You do not have to give any personal details during a stop and search. Police stop and search people to gather intelligence and to intimidate.

This section will focus on specific issues that transgender folk might face if the police stop and search them. It will cover:

1. Documentation
2. Being Touched By a Police Officer During a Search
3. FAQs About Stop and Search

For a more general, and in-depth, guide please consult our Stop and Search guide.

1. Documentation

If they succeed in accessing your documentation by going through your bag or wallet and finding ID, bank cards or letters, cops might argue that you ‘might have stolen’ your own property and so they ‘need your details’ to verify that you haven’t.

This is nonsense, but does sometimes happen to people, regardless of their gender. If you know you are going on a demonstration, think about what documentation you need to bring with you: if you don’t need it, leave it at home: it could limit this from happening. If your documentation has different names on, or if the name or title on documentation is associated with a gender different from how you present, the police might argue that you have stolen your own stuff.

All of the documentation is yours. You can and should insist on this. However, it is possible that the police could arrest you on suspicion of theft. This is very rare, and the case wouldn’t go anywhere in court, but it is possible.

This situation could make you feel that you have to out yourself as trans in order to explain the situation. That is your decision, and some people would choose to do this. However, it is not illegal to have more than one name, and you do not have to give them your personal details.

You may choose to give your name under threat of arrest for theft, however, in order to assert that that is your property, and that is your decision.

Take the names and numbers of the officers who have treated you in this way, and get in touch with GBC if you wish to make a complaint against them.

2. Being touched by a police officer during a search

If you are being stop and searched, ‘non-intimate’ searches can be done by officers of any gender, but you have the right to ask to be searched by an officer of the same gender as you.

If it is ‘reasonably practicable’, this should be done.Searches involve being touched by an officer on your legs, arms, back and chest outside of your clothes. They can make you remove outer clothing such as a coat or hat.

If you are being misgendered you can insist on being treated as your gender so as to be searched by an officer of the same gender.Because the police only have to provide someone of the same gender as you ‘where practicable’ it is unlikely you would be searched by a non-binary officer.

If the police want to do a more intimate search where they make you remove more than outer clothing, they have to take you to a private place, which could be a police van, and you must be searched by someone of the same gender. Therefore you can insist that they recognise your gender so that you are searched by an officer of the appropriate gender.

A search must be proportionate to the reason for the search. If police officers tell you they have to search you more intimately, ask them why that is necessary. If they are searching for items that could be used to cause criminal damage, or weapons, it is very unlikely that you would need to remove more clothing because a pat down search would lead to the discovery of such an item.

However, there may be rare circumstances where an intimate search would be considered reasonable by the police (e.g. they could argue they are looking for razor blades). The police can ask you to remove clothing to recover such an item if it is not voluntarily handed over.

A search cannot lawfully be done to try to determine what a police officer considers to be your “real” gender. This is definitely not a lawful basis for a search and would obviously be discriminatory.

3. FAQs About Stop and Searches

1. What if, for whatever reason, a police officer challenges my gender after having searched me?
Your gender is your gender. You can insist on being treated as your gender and do not have to out yourself as trans to anyone. The Equality Act 2010 defines gender reassignment as a protected characteristic.

2. Can I be stop and searched if I am read as a man coming out of the women’s toilets?
No. It is not up to you to explain yourself. It is up to them to justify how they are treating you and the law under which they are acting. Always ask: “Under What Power?: “Am I being detained? If so, under what power?” Under PACE there are limited things you can search for, e.g. items that could be used to cause criminal damage. Being read as a man coming out of a women’s toilet is not one of those things.

3. Am I putting myself in more danger by outing myself to a police officer?
Legally, this should not be the case because of the Equality Act 2010. If you choose to out yourself as trans, you should absolutely tell the officers that you expect to be treated with respect and in accordance with the Equality Act, under which gender reassignment is a protected characteristic. However, transphobia is rife, and therefore how you are treated at the time will depend on the individual cop.

If you have a negative experience during a Stop and Search, whether that be due to transphobia or any other reason, get in touch with GBC. We can put you in touch with a solicitor who can help you make a complaint against the officers if you wish.

The Y-Stop App can be used to record a Stop and Search. The app is available here.


4. Being Arrested

Submitted by R Totale on June 22, 2020

This section covers specific issues that transgender people may face if they are arrested. For general advice, please see our guide on being arrested here.

This section will cover:

1. When is gender a particular issue?
2. Giving your name
3. Access to medication, hormones, birth control, sanitary towels
4. Additional questions about arrest

1. When is gender a particular issue?

There are specific times when you are arrested when gender is a particular issue:

• When your details – whether you choose to give them or not – are being recorded
• If you are grouped with other people of what the police perceive to be your gender
• If you are put in a cell with other people of what the police perceive to be your gender you should be put in a cell with someone of the same gender as you.

Therefore you can insist on being accurately gendered. Good times to do this are at the point of arrest being checked into the police station on arrival.

It is totally your decision as to whether you wish to do this. Some people would rather endure being misgendered during their time in custody. Do what makes you feel safest.

If you are going on an action and you think you could be arrested, let your friends or affinity group know how you want to be treated in the police station if you are arrested. If you have people providing back office legal support to your action, you can let them know too so they can check in with your solicitor to make sure you are being treated appropriately.

2. Giving your name

Two important things to remember if and when you give your name in the station are:

• You can change your name in English and Welsh law at any point for any reason as long as it is not to engage in fraud
• You don’t have to have any documentation of the name that you give, it is still your name.

The police are likely to check your name against the electoral register, they might send a cop round to the address you’ve given and ask if you live there.

If you give a fake name with the intention to deceive, that is illegal. If it is your name, that is not a problem, even if you have more than one name. This means you do not have to undergo misgendering in the station just because your official documents do not reflect your actual name and gender.

3. Access to medication, hormones, birth control, sanitary towels

You may need to access hormones, other medication, birth control, sanitary towels or other hygiene products while in custody. Speak to your solicitor: they can advocate for you. Having hormones with you may cause them to question your gender. You can speak to your solicitor about this as well.

4. Additional questions about arrest

If the police are continuing to misgender you, is there a process to challenge that?
If you want to, you can tell your solicitor who can also insist on your being treated appropriately.

Given that gender dysphoria is technically a mental health condition, is there any way the police can use this against you while you are in custody?
No. Gender reassignment is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. The police have no right to treat you as mentally ill because you are trans. The police can decide that you need a mental health assessment for various reasons, and this must be done by a medical healthcare professional. It cannot be done by a police officer. You can ask to have an Appropriate Adult present if you wish.

What if I am under 18?
You have the right to have a parent, guardian or Appropriate Adult informed of your arrest and present for any interview. They may offer you a Social Worker but we recommend against this.


Guide to public order situations

A brief survival guide for when a demonstration turns into a riot or public order situation, and preventing the police from gaining the upper hand once a situation has occurred.

Submitted by libcom on October 17, 2006

This article is focussed on the UK, but some points are universal.

Bear in mind that the police are probably much better equipped and trained for close combat than you or I. They have been psyching themselves up for hours, are likely to have plenty of reserves standing by and usually feel confident with the law behind them. Beating the police is about outwitting them, not necessarily hitting them over the head.

The aims and methods of the state
British Law has traditionally been concerned with keeping the peace and not necessarily preventing or solving crime.

The roots of such public order policing can be traced back to the common law offences introduced to control the havoc caused by mercenaries returning from the Hundred Years War. These laws evolved into the 1967 Riot Act, which established in law the concept of arresting anyone present at a riot, regardless of whether they are guilty of violent acts. The Riot Act no longer exists, replaced by the Public Order Act in 1986. The reality of the situation is that the police act as if it did.

The Public Order Manual of Tactical Operations and Related Matters provides the police with clear instructions for dealing with situations where public order is threatened. This manual has never been made public, has no legal standing and was never discussed by Parliament. It basically gives the police guidance in the use of pre-emptive acts of violence, to achieve the following:

1. To break the crowd up into manageable portions, keep them moving then eventually disperse them.
2. To provoke violence as a way of justifying their actions and flushing out any ringleaders.
3. To contain the crowd and stop the trouble spreading.
4. To intimidate and break the spirit of the crowd.
5. To gather evidence for later.

The manual contains details of tactics which include the use of snatch squads, baton charges and the use of horses to disperse and intimidate large crowds. Make no mistake - the cops will be prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure that our actions and protests are ineffective.

So how do we make sure our actions are effective?

• Don’t be tempted to stand around and fight – get to where you can cause disruption without the police around.
• Keep moving, as a group and individually. Fill gaps. Never stand still – chaos puts the police off.
• Nip police attempts to form lines or divide the crowd in the bud.
• Don’t be intimidated.
• Do everything in small teams, prepare in advance.
• Think defensively. Protect each other and escape routes.
• Always face outwards, ie. away from us and towards them.
• Link arms as often as possible, form barriers, use your body.
• Move quickly and calmly, never giving the police time to react.

Staying out of jail and hospital need not be hard work. Most people caught up in riots manage it. But with a bit of forethought you can turn surviving a public order situation into a living order situation!

The aims of the protestors
No one really ‘wins’ at the end of the day, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are unhurt, still free and some egg is still stuck to the face of your original target after the police have been and gone.

With all that in mind, we suggest you stick to these three basic aims when you find yourself in a riot:

1. Get you and your mates away safely, rather than fighting.
2. Find a place to cause embarrassment and economic damage to your real target, rather than fighting.
3. Help others in trouble by administering first aid and de-arresting, rather than fighting.

Sticking together
Always try to form an affinity group before setting out and at least have a buddy system whereby everybody has one person to look out for, and to act with, when a situation arises.

Affinity groups are just a handful of people who work together as a unit, as and when circumstances arise. They can meet beforehand to discuss ideas and possible reactions, practice or role play scenarios. The more your group meets, the quicker your reaction times will get and your effectiveness will improve. Affinity groups can often act without the need for internal discussion, they naturally develop their own shorthand communications and can divide up skills and equipment amongst each other. Water, D-locks, paint, first aid, food, banners and spare clothes is a lot for one person to carry, but divided up between five people it’s nothing.

Do pay attention to what you’re going to wear in advance. Consider precautions that are discrete, adaptable, easy to apply and discard. Thinking about these threats in advance will help:

1) Surveillance
Masking makes it difficult to identify individuals in a crowd and if everyone masks up no one will stand out. The cut off sleeve of a long sleeved t-shirt makes a good mask. Wear it casually around your neck. If you wear glasses use a cut off section of a stocking (hold-ups work best as they have thick elastic) instead of a t-shirt, this prevents glasses steaming up. You can use it as a hair-tie, if you’re a hippy type, until you need it.

A hooded top will cover most of your face and a baseball cap on its own provides good protection from most static cameras, which are usually mounted high up. Sunglasses give good protection against harmful rays including UV and CCTV. Worth bearing in mind is that the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 made an Amendment to Section 60 of The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. It gives any uniformed police officer the power to insist on the removal of any item of clothing a person is wearing or may wear for the purpose of concealment of identity. The item can be seized and retained.

2) Truncheon blows
A placard makes a good temporary shield and light strips of plastic under your clothing or on the forearm could offer some protection. Unless you are intending to try and break police lines, the best protective clothing is probably a good pair of running shoes. More recently, the WOMBLES - inspired by Italy’s Ya Basta group - have taken a more positive stance to protection by wearing thick layers of padding under their clothes, together with helmets. This enables them to keep police lines at bay, protecting themselves and the crowd behind them from truncheon blows. They are able to push through police lines and free demonstrators trapped by the use of a Section 60 (see later).

3) CS Spray
The best authorities suggest a solution of camden tablets (used to clean home brewing equipment), some say use lots of water, but its effectiveness is unclear. Whatever you do don’t rub it in or take a hot shower. If in doubt get clear and let the wind blow it away from your skin. This will take 20 minutes.

4) Baton charges
If you want to take a banner, use long strips of plastic haulage tarps rather than a sheet. This can be used as a moveable barrier to stop charging police or for you to advance behind. Wrap the ends in on themselves so the police can’t easily grab it. Hide behind and hold on tight.

If you aren’t doing anything else you should always be defending.

Whether that means securing a building, strengthening your position on the street, barricading (see later) or protecting others. Here are some ideas:

1. Keep looking outwards. For example, if someone is being given first aid, stand and face away from them.

2. Form cordons as much as possible. Anything the police want, including buildings and especially sound systems needs a strong outwardly facing cordon. Things may be quiet and you feel like a prick linking arms or holding hands with complete strangers, but do it. Repeat the mantra ‘It’s not a hippy peacenik thang, it’s a rock hard revolutionary thang.’ Take a leaf out of the police manual: stand like you’re about to do ‘the conga’ and stick your right hand down the back of the trousers of the person in front, repeat along the line, asking permission first. It’s virtually unbreakable.

3. Get into the habit of dancing with your back towards the sound system.

4. Someone needs to watch the police from a good vantage point, so that their next move can be pre-empted. On top of the sounds van is not a good place; no one can hear when you shout "Here come the dog handlers! Fucking run!" and any gestures you do will be interpreted as dancing…

5. Sitting down is good for dissuading the police from charging, but you should only do it in large numbers and the crowd needs to feel confident. We advise you to sit down as soon as the shout goes up, hesitating is not good, you can assess the situation once you’re down there. Hopefully others will do the same. If it still looks viable five seconds later, link arms with your neighbours. There are times when sitting down is not really recommended – horses are maybe too unpredictable but the authors have never seen horses charge into a seated crowd, the way they do into a standing crowd. It’s a good way to avoid the crowd getting split up. Some particularly violent gangs of police just aren’t worth it either. Only experience will teach you when to sit down.

6. Barricades can be more hassle than they are worth. A solid impassable barricade can reduce your own options when you need to run. Bear in mind that anything you build now you are likely to get dragged over later - leave out the barbed wire. The best barricades are random matter strewn all over the place – horses can’t easily charge over them, police find it hard to hold a line in among them, but individuals can easily pick their way through. If you know police are advancing from only one direction and you have clear escape routes behind, barricades can be sensible. The tactics the cops developed during the 1980’s riots was to drive the van into crowds with TSG [Tactical Support Group] in the back, jump out and arrest everyone they caught. Barricades are an effective way of stopping this.

7. The best form of defence of all is CHAOS! A complicated hierarchy needs orders to act on and those orders come from individuals making informed decisions. If the situation changes constantly they simply cannot keep up. Keep moving all the time, weave in and out of the crowd. Change your appearance. Open up new directions and possibilities, be unpredictable. If you find yourself stood still and passive for more than a minute then you’ve stopped acting defensively.

Basic police choreography
With any crowd the police will be looking to break it up as soon as possible. Crowd dispersal is achieved with baton charges, horse charges and sometimes CS gas and vehicles. Some particularly nasty or out of control units may pile straight into the crowd, but there is usually a gap between the time they arrive and the start of the dispersal. This stalling time is often just dithering by the commanding officer, or psyching-tooling up time for the troops (the latter is easy to spot). This aside, there are three more reasons why they aren’t wading straight in, see if you can spot them next time you’re waiting for ‘kick-off’:

1. They haven’t worked out where they’re going to disperse you to.
2. They want to gather more evidence/flush out more ring leaders. This involves keeping you right where they can see you and provoking you like hell. They will film you and photograph you and send out snatch squads to pick off individuals.
3. They are waiting for back up because you out number them or are in danger of gaining the upper hand.

However, since Euston Station, November 30th 1999, the police have been using the tactic of coralling people and preventing them from leaving. Section 60 of the Criminal Justice Act 1994 gives police blanket powers to stop and search anyone in a certain area where they ‘resonably suspect’ there will be incidents of serious violence. Often this tactic is used to gather information, but you’re not obliged to help. They can’t read anything of yours (address book, bank cards etc) and you don’t have to give a name or address, but they can search you for weapons only. Being held for hours is dispiriting, you can’t do much, and the police may push you about and provoke an opportunity to crack a few skulls. This is where the WOMBLES come into their own, you can take a more positive approach and not just wait around until the cops allow to let you leave. The old bill may also detain people to prevent a breach of the peace where they fear one is imminent. The legality of this is questionable, there will most likely be legal challenges in the near future.

The dance steps
OK, so they’ve stopped fucking around and now it’s time to send you home, with a great story to tell your friends (let’s face it, they won’t see the truth on the news). The bulk of the action is shocking in its predictability. The following will be repeated over and over, in different combinations, until they win or get bored:

1. Officers in lines will pen you in (preferably on the pavement).
2. Officers in lines will push into a crowd to divide it in half.
3. Batons/horses/CS spray attack penned in crowds to lower morale.
4. Charges that slowly push you down a street (rush of cops > > strengthen line > repeat).
5. Crowds throwing missiles will be ‘put to flight’, as it’s harder to throw stuff if you are running.
6. Shift changes. (Often look for the arrival of reinforcements. It is important to try and spot the difference for reasons of morale, and that they are vulnerable during shift changes).

Most of the above require the individual officers to be in tight lines, so it’s important to stop those lines forming. Unfortunately we are quite bad at this. The first line drawn is the most crucial and most people don’t see it coming. The police will try and form lines right in amongst you if they can, thus weakening your position at the same time as strengthening theirs.

Line dancing or stopping lines forming
If the crowd seems volatile, the police will hold right back and the first line drawn will be some distance away. But if you are all hanging around looking confused and passive they will sneak right in amongst you and the first lines will be dividing lines. This is how it works:

The first divide the crowd up into ‘actors’ and ‘viewers’. Small groups of officers will move into the crowd and start politely encouraging the timid ones onto the pavement. Once the crowd starts moving the way they want, those little groups of cops will get bigger and start joining up. Before you know it, there’s two crowds on two pavements with two lines of cops penning them in. Let the head cracking commence. Or…

• Don’t stand and watch them.
• Don’t look like you’ll let them get anywhere near you.
• Spot gaps in the crowd and fill them.
• Work out which space they want to take and get there with your mates first.
• Get long tarp banners to the front to stop them advancing and filming.
• Protect your escape routes by standing in them.
• Get those who have turned into spectators off the pavements, back in the crowd and moving around.

Of course, now having resisted being split up and penned in, they may just let fly with the baton charge. But at least you’re now in a stronger position to deal with it and escape. Whatever happens next, don’t just stand there waiting for it. If you’ve managed to get their line drawn far away, you’ve bought valuable time and space – so use it! Even if their line is right up against you, they still haven’t broken down your numbers.

However, it’s only a matter of time before the police try and get closer/break you up again. Use the time to get out of there slowly and in one block, this is the last thing they want – a large mob moving around freely. Whatever you do, don’t stand there waiting for them to try again. You are now in control to go and do whatever you want, so do it. If they have blocked your only exit, try…

Counter advancing
This involves moving your lines forward into theirs, thus gaining more space and opening up more exits. Use the front line as a solid wall, linking arms and moving slowly forward. Use the long banner like a snowplough (this stops them grabbing you or breaking the line, they can still hit you with truncheons though). If there’s enough of you WOMBLED up, your protective clothing will make that getaway that much safer and easier.

Snow plows
A line of crowd control barriers can also be carried by the front line like a snowplough to break into the police ranks. The front of the ‘plough’ can then be opened once their line is breached and the barriers pushed to the side to contain the cops. This all needs a lot of co-ordination and balls, the advantage gained will not last long, so push all your ranks forward through the gap straight away.

Using your body
Your body is your best and most adaptable tool. It is best used in concert with others. For instance it could take a long time for twenty to scale a wall, but stand two people against the wall, bowed together with their arms locked and you’ve got a set of human steps! (Those waiting to climb can link arms around the steps to protect them). Always look for ways to use your body to escape.

Keep looking for ways of increasing your numbers, by joining up with other groups and absorbing stragglers. Everyone has to get out and you’ll stand a better chance of getting out unharmed, with all your belongings and equipment if you leave together at the same time.

Snatch squads
When the police want to isolate and arrest an individual in a crowd they will usually employ a snatch squad.

Watch for groups of ten or so fully dressed cops, rallying behind the police lines. They will be instructed by evidence gatherers and a superior (you can often spot them pointing out the person to be snatched). The lines will open temporarily to let the squad through. Half the officers will perform the snatch, the other half will surround them with batons, hitting anyone who gets in the way. Once they have their target he/she is bundled away, back behind police lines.

Try and beat the snatch squad by:

1. Keeping the crowd moving around.
2. Spot the squad preparing.
3. If possible warn the target to get the hell out of the area.
4. Linking arms in an impenetrable wall in the squad’s path.
5. Surround the squad once they are in the crowd and intimidate them so much that they panic and give up.
6. If you are being grabbed or pressure pointed, keep your head and arms moving. Don’t lash out if you can help it, or you will end up with an assault charge too.

The best time is to do this is as soon as the snatch has happened. You need a group who know how to break grips and some people to act as blockers. Once you’ve got your person back all link arms and move off into the crowd. The police may try and snatch back or arrest one of the de-arresters.

This guide is an ongoing project. Please send your comments and additions to us for the next version, to ‘Public Order Guide’ c/o Manchester Earth First! Dept. 29, 255 Wilmslow Road, Manchester M14 5LW

Edited by, last reviewed 2006


Section 60 advice guide


Some information and tips on the law, your rights, and how to react when police have enforced a "Section 60" order on a demonstration or picket.

Submitted by libcom on October 17, 2006

At some recent demonstrations, police have cordoned off the demonstration, corralling large numbers of people into an increasing confined area before taking their names, addresses and photographs, eventually releasing them one by one. This was done under the obscure Section 60 of the Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994 (originally designed to prevent minor football disturbances).

The S60 order is a new police tactic at major demonstrations used effectively to control, subdue and gain personal information about protesters despite having the extraordinarily limited power simply to "Stop and search in anticipation of violence".

Its effectiveness in the past was due to the fact that no-one knew just exactly what powers the police had under S60. As it turns out, they have very few powers.

In the event of an S60 order being issued these are the important things to remember: The police have the power to search you for weapons (and dangerous instruments). They have no other powers under S60. They can only detain you "for as long as necessary to carry out a search".

They have no legal power to force you to give them your name and address. Under no circumstances give it to them: it will be kept on file for seven years. When asked, say "no comment".

They have no legal power to force you to have your photograph taken. Do not allow them to do this. This too will be kept on file for seven years. Keep your head turned away, or put your hand in front of your face.

They have no legal power to ask you to remove any item of clothing in public view, other than that which is concealing your identity. Any facial masking can be confiscated.

If you are asked to remove coats/jumpers etc, refuse outright. They have no legal power to search wallets, purses, inside small pockets etc. This is an S60 search, for weapons only. If they ask to search wallets, purses, inside small pockets etc, refuse outright.

If you have a bag they will search that, but again for weapons only. Any other items, documents, potentially incriminating articles are off limits.

Do not allow them to examine any of your personal possessions (cash cards, student cards, diaries, organisers etc). This is not part of S60. Under Article 8 of the UK Human Rights Act 1998 your privacy is assured. Make sure they know this. They can only confiscate weapons and facial masking.

They have the power to use "reasonable force" but ONLY if you do not submit to a search. No other force can be used for any other purpose.

They must tell you their name, number, station they're based at the reason for the search. Ask them for this. Not only will it piss them, off but if they don't provide this information the search will be illegal. Remember: in an S60 situation, you are accused of nothing and you have done nothing wrong. Do not answer any questions, however insignificant or polite. Say "no comment" to everything.

Most of all, don't be scared by them! They know the law, and now so do you. Use it!

Legal advice: Section 60
Contrary to information being circulated, the legal basis of the tactic of police cordoning off demonstrations and forbidding large numbers of people to leave from inside the cordon - as used at J18, N30 and Mayday2K - is NOT s60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

Police, indeed anyone, can use reasonable force to detain people to prevent a breach of the peace where they fear one is imminent. This was the basis of the effective mass imprisonment at previous demonstrations. It is not an arrest.

The powers in s60 have been used to search people individually as they are being released from the cordon and this is where the confusion stems from.

S60 can be used where a senior cop reasonably suspects there will be incidents of serious violence or that people are carrying dangerous weapons or offensive weapons in a locality (inserted by s8 Knives Act 1997).

1. Once police have released you from the cordoned area, they can then only detain you "for as long as necessary to carry out a search". While in the cordoned area they can detain you as long as they have reasonable (i.e. objectively justifiable) grounds that this is necessary to prevent a breach of the peace.

2. While performing a search they can ask you to remove outer clothing, such as coats and jumpers in public. In addition, s60(4A) - inserted by s25 CDA 1998 - allows the police to force you to remove anything they reasonably suspect you are wearing wholly or mainly to conceal your identity. There is nothing to stop you putting something else on after you have taken off a mask or had it confiscated.

3. The s60 search is for "offensive weapons or dangerous instruments". This is not limited to large things such as samurai swords and stun guns (taking examples from certain Sunday papers) but can include razor blades. They can search inside wallets, purses, small pockets for these.

4. They can search personal possessions for dangerous instruments that might be hidded inside and they can also seize prohibited articles such as drugs. While it is true that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) contains a qualified right of respect for your private life, and that under s6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 public authorities such as the police will be acting unlawfully if they breach any right in the ECHR, it is wrong to see this as doing something as absolute as assuring your privacy.

Before police start searching through personal possessions, e.g. address books, cards in wallet, warn them politely that if they do start trying to read what's in your address book or on the cards in your wallet rather than performing a cursory search, i.e. seeing if razor blades fall out onto the ground from your address book, they will be acting outside their powers and you will stop them.

8. Before conducting the search, an officer must take reasonable steps to communicate their name, number, station, etc. They also have to provide you with a written record of the search, which you should ask for. If they can't provide one straight away they must tell you which police station you can get it from. Police dislike form filling and paperwork particularly when it leaves less time to bash anti-capitalists and then fit them up.

9. Under the Data Protection Act, anyone holding personal data relating to other people (this includes video and photographic footage) has to provide copies to those people for £10, as demonstrated by Mark Thomas on C4. If substantial numbers of people on the Mayday demonstration exercise this right, the police will have to spend their resources on finding footage with those individuals on, in order to collate it and send it to them, rather than gathering intelligence and preparing for arrests.

Taken from the UHC Collective website
Edited by, last reviewed 2006


Terrorism Act 2000 guide

Terrorist? Blair heckler Walter Wolfgang
Terrorist? Blair heckler Walter Wolfgang

A quick guide and brief summary of the parts of the British Terrorism Act 2000 of relevance to radical workers.

Submitted by libcom on October 17, 2006

"Terrorism" is defined very widely and could include what people would normally think of as direct action. It gives the Police very wide powers to stop search and arrest, and limits people's rights - including on arrest. The Act has been (mis-)used extensively against workers - most famously against 82-year-old Walter Wolfgang who heckled Tony Blair and the Labour Party conference in 2005.1 Terrorism as defined by S1 of the TA 2000
It includes:
The THREAT of action (threat is enough - no actual action needed)-which is designed to influence the government , with the purpose of advancing a political or ideological cause, involving :
- serious damage to property
- interference with or seriously disrupting an electronic system.

This is only part of the definition, and does not include actions which we would normally think of as being defined as terrorism.

All 3 parts must be satisfied to come within the definition - there must be an act or threat (of eg serious damage to property), it must be done to influence the government, and it must be to advance a political or ideolgical cause.

S33 Cordoned areas
Where the Police are undertaking a "terrorist investigation (preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism- see definition above) they can cordon off an area. Lasts for 14 days, can be extended to max of 28 days.
While an area is cordoned, Police can order people to leave and prohibit access to that area.

Police can arrest at any time anyone they reasonably suspect to be a terrorist (see definition above). Detention can be for up to 48 hours (extension can then be applied for to court) access to a lawyer can be denied and normal PACE rules do not apply.

Police can stop and search to see if a person has anything on them to prove they are a terrorist - must be same sex search.

S44 Stop and search powers
Authorization is given by Assistant Chief Constable and can only be given to prevent acts of terrorism.
It relates to a specified area and can last for up to 28 days.

It an only be used to search for things that could be used for terrorism, BUT Police can search even if they don't have grounds to suspect that people have anything on them of this kind.

They can search pedestrians and anything carried by them, cars, drivers passengers and anything they have with them

Police can't ask for removal of any clothing in public except hats shoes jacket/coat and gloves.

Police can detain people for as long as is reasonable to search

Police can use "reasonable force"

If you are searched under this section you can ask for a written statement from the police to confirm you were stopped, and they must give you one - so that makes it all OK then!

Where an authorisation is given it must be confirmed (or cancelled) by the Secretary of State within 48 hours.

Failing to stop is an offence max sentence 6 months or a fine.

S57 Possession for Terrorist Purposes
It's an offence to possess an "article " ("substance or any other thing") in circumstances which give rise to a reasonable suspicion that it's connected with the prearation of instigation of acts of terrorism. It's enough if it's found in the house you live in - unless you can prove that you didn't know it was there

S58 Collection of information
It's an offence to collect or have information likely to be useful to someone preparing an act of terrorism (see S1 definition above). This can include photos or e-mails, unless you can prove that you had a "reasonable excuse "to have it.

Taken from the UHC Collective website
Edited by, last reviewed 2006

  • 1See BBC News: Hero's return for Labour heckler -


An activist's guide to basic first aid

A short guide to health care and first aid to be used on demonstrations or during direct action when injuries are possible, such as large pickets, blockades or demonstrations.

Submitted by libcom on October 17, 2004

What to wear
- Comfortable, protective shoes that you can run in.
- Clothing covering all your skin to protect from sun and pepper spray exposure.
- Shatter-resistant eye protection (ie. Sunglasses, swim goggles, or gas mask)
- Bandana to cover nose and mouth soaked in water or vinegar, it can aid breathing during chemical exposure.
- Weather-related gear (ie. Rain gear or sun hat)
- Heavy duty gloves if you plan to handle hot tear gas canisters.
- Fresh clothes in plastic bag (in case yours get contaminated by chemical weapons)
- A cap or a hat to protect from the sun and from chemical weapons.

What to bring
- Lots of water in a plastic bottle with squirt or spray top, to drink and to wash your skin and eyes in need be.
- Energy snacks
- A small medi-kit with bandages, plasters, tape etc.
- Identification and/or emergency contact information ONLY if you want to be cited out of jail in the event of an arrest.
- Just enough money for pay-phone, food, transportation.
- Watch, paper, pen for accurate documentation of events, police brutality, injuries.
- Water or alcohol based sunscreen.
- Inhaler, epipen, insulin or other meds if applicable.
- Several days of prescription medication and doctor's note in case of arrest.
- Menstrual pads, if needed. Avoid using tampons; if you're arrested you may not have a chance to change it (tampons left in for more than six hours increase your risk of developing toxic shock syndrome)

What not to do
- Don't put Vaseline, mineral oil, oil-based sunscreen or moisturisers on skin as they can trap chemicals.
- Don't wear contact lenses, which can trap irritating chemicals underneath.
- Don't wear things that can easily be grabbed (ie. Dangly earrings or other jewellery, ties, loose hair)
- Don't go to the demo alone, if you can help it. It is best to go with an affinity group or some friends who know you well.
- Don't forget to eat food and DRINK LOTS OF WATER.

Medication in jail
If you are risking arrest and take medication for any health condition that might pose serious problems were your medication to be interrupted ( such as: behavioural disorders, HIV, diabetes, hypertension) you should be aware that you may not have access to proper medication while you are in jail. A letter from a doctor will help. Three copies are needed, one for the legal team, one for the medical team, and one for you. It should include your name, diagnosis, that you must have access to medication at all times, a list of all meds required and a statement that you can must be allowed to keep meds on person to administer properly, and that no substitutions are acceptable.

Since your name will be on the document, you may want to hide it on your body as a sort of insurance policy - perhaps you won't need it and then could eat it and participate in jail solidarity tactics, but perhaps you'll be worn out already at the time of arrest and will want to cite out in order to take care of yourself. Better to cite than pass out.

Make sure that your affinity group and the legal team is aware of your needs so they can help care and advocate for you.

Blood, bruises and broken bones
The most common injuries on demonstrations are cuts or bruises sustained either by falling over whilst running or following a kicking from the cops. They are usually minor and treatable 'on site' though some will require hospital treatment.

Bruises require little treatment and it may be the case that you or an injured comrade need simply to rest for a while, whereas cuts should be treated with a plaster or bandage. If bleeding is heavy this can be stopped by firm direct pressure on the source for 5/10 minutes. If an artery has been cut and bleeding is severe, a tourniquet will be needed for short-term management but proper medical attention must be sought if blood loss continues.

Use a scarf, bandana, belt or torn shirt sleeve and tie around the arm or leg directly over the bleeding area and tighten until the bleeding slows. Wrap the injury to protect it and get the hero to a hospital - fast. I someone has glass or metal lodged in their body DO NOT ATTEMPT to remove it: this could cause further injury and increase the risk of infection.

If a limb appears to be broken or fractured, improvise a splint before moving the victim. Place a stiff backing behind the limb and wrap both with a bandage. Try to avoid moving the injured limb. This person needs to go to hospital for an x-ray and treatment.

Head injuries have to be approached with more caution than other body parts. Following a head injury it is essential that the person has an x-ray within 24 hours. Again, bleeding can be stopped by applying direct pressure. If the person is unconscious, do not attempt to move them: this could exacerbate the injuries already sustained: seek professional medical attention.

Internal injuries can occur from blows to the kidneys. These are usually accompanied by nausea, vomiting, shock and persistent abdominal pain. Get prompt professional care.

And finally...
Remember the best protection against injury is our awareness. We must be alert and on guard for possible situations where injury may occur and keep an eye out for our comrades. We have to look after ourselves on actions and we hope that this information has been of help to fellow activists. We welcome feedback and further advice in order to provide ourselves with the best protection whilst out on the front-line of the revolutionary struggle.

Taken from the UHC Collective website
Edited by, last reviewed 2006



7 years 8 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Iktomi on June 27, 2016

Pretty similar information but the "Alternative to EMS" zine is a good, short read. I didn't find it anywhere else while searching this site.

As an aspiring EMT/Paramedic, I think it would make a good addition to this section.


7 years 8 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by jesuithitsquad on June 27, 2016

Good to bump in lieu of Sacramento

jef costello

7 years 8 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by jef costello on June 27, 2016

A good article

Bruises require little treatment and it may be the case that you or an injured comrade need simply to rest for a while, whereas cuts should be treated with a plaster or bandage. If bleeding is heavy this can be stopped by firm direct pressure on the source for 5/10 minutes.

If an artery has been cut and someone is bleeding to death then a tourniquet can be applied but proper medical attention must be sought immediately. Use a scarf, bandana, belt or torn shirt sleeve and tie around the arm or leg directly over the bleeding area and tighten until the bleeding slows. Wrap the injury to protect it and get the hero to a hospital - fast.

If someone has glass or metal lodged in their body DO NOT ATTEMPT to remove it: this could cause further injury and increase the risk of infection.Place dressings around the object(s) to immobilise it then bandage the dressings to keep them in place.

I think the paragraphs should be changed to make the use of the tourniquet clearer as it's a pretty dangerous technque that is only used in the worst circumstances. Although to be honest I think it should be removed as tourniquets are dangerous, the description here is too short and incorrect, I've added advice to clarify but I'm not touching the actual description without a bit of time to think and check some references but it is plain wrong (I think a professional should correct it, most first aid courses don't teach tourniquets for these reasons and also in situations where one is apprpriate are so rare and so quick that tourniquets are rarely useful. There was also a typo and I've suggested a little addition for foreign objects.

Black Badger

7 years 8 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Black Badger on June 28, 2016

Tourniquets went out of style in the 1970s, and have recently enjoyed something of a resurgence in emergency medicine. The move away from them had to do with an overzealous use in situations where they are unnecessary; tourniquets should only be used in the case of bleeding that is not controlled by direct pressure and elevation (the use of pressure points to augment bleeding control has now gone out of style). The problem with most applications of old-style tourniquets has to do with the fabric being too narrow and secured too tightly. The proper application of a tourniquet only requires the blood flow to stop until clotting and vasoconstriction take over, which is 10-15 minutes on average. In the county where I work, tourniquets were put back on our ambulances about seven years ago. I had to use one once, on a patient who'd put her arm through a broken window and the laceration on her forearm was too deep for direct pressure and elevation to control the bleeding. The equipment is called a Combat Action Tourniquet (CAT for short), and was developed in the US and UK military in Iraq (too many wounded were dying from hypovolemia, so a revamped and retooled tourniquet was developed). The advantages are that the fabric is wide and it has a velcro closure plus a twist-lock mechanism. And you can write the time you locked it on the surface, which is important for when the patient arrives in the emergency department; they can loosen it slowly or more quickly depending on how long it's been locked in place, allowing blood flow to the distal area of the affected limb in order to minimize tissue death due to lack of perfusion. But you really need a little practice -- even though it's designed for idiots (cops and soldiers), it's not really intuitive. In short, using a belt, scarf, or bandanna, is not really a good method. Unless you think the bleeding is definitely not going to be controlled by direct pressure and elevation, and you don't mind losing the limb...