What Are Your Rights as a Protester in the UK? Care2 Campaigner Explains (Video)

Care2′s Senior UK Campaigner, Beth Granter, interviewed Sussex Police about the rights of members of the public who want to peacefully demonstrate.

In an era of increasing tension over how police manage public protest, the Care2 video aims to shed light on how police respond to protesters.

Granter is a Brighton-based activist who has previously been monitored by Sussex Police in relation to her peaceful involvement in LGBT and anti-cuts organizing. In the new Care2 video, Granter interviews Protest Liaison Officer (PLO) Sergeant Mark Redbourn, from Sussex Police, to find out what rights members of the public have when peacefully protesting.

This nine-minute Care2 video offers useful insight for anyone who wants to learn more about their rights while engaging in democratic protest.

“The video answers practical questions people may have about activism,” Granter says. “Some people are afraid to use their legal right to protest because they don’t know what they can and can’t do within the law. They’re afraid of getting into trouble.”

Granter says she hopes the video shows the public they can engage in direct action legally and safely.

“Demonstrating for issues you believe in is a valuable part of a democratic society,” she says. “I hope the Care2 video encourages more people to get out there, protest, and draw attention to what’s important to them.”

The video covers how people can legally demonstrate, as well as how to handle police questioning, confinementand surveillance. Topics include:

  • When are members of the public allowed to film the police, if at all? In this video, Sergeant Redbourn says this is legal in a public place.
  • Do protesters have to tell the police about a demo they’re organizing? Sergeant Redbourn says if it’s static — meaning it takes place at one location, and is not a march — organizers are not required to alert police.
  • What if a protester gets confinedfor hours and needs the toilet, as happened to Granter? Will the person get arrested for public urination? According to Sergeant Redbourn, if the confined person has explained to a police officer the situation and they’re still not allowed out, public urination should not result in arrest.

“Police Liaison Teams at Sussex want to be open and transparent while engaging with the community as a whole, and therefore we were pleased to participate in this video,” Sergeant Redbourn told Care2. “We always aim for protests to be peaceful, and we hope that if the public has as much information as they can while also talking to PLT officers, we are far more likely to achieve this.”

In the video, Sergeant Redbourn encourages activists to engage with police and share details of their protest plans. However, Granter warns viewers to consider the potential risks of engaging with the police when not legally obliged, as doing so could lead to monitoring, intelligence gathering and even police harassment.

Beth advises activists to seek further advice from the Network for Police Monitoring, Netpol and from Green and Black Cross, an organization that provides legal support for activists.

“Sergeant Redbourn’s insistence that officers like him are only interested in a proportionate level of policing to ‘facilitate protest’ is somewhat disingenuous,” says Kevin Blowe, Coordinator of Netpol.

“There is ample evidence police are using sophisticated intelligence-gathering tools to build up a picture of the size, structures, leadership and links between different protest movements. One of the most obvious examples is from Sussex Police itself: after a Freedom of Information request, it was revealed that Police Liaison Officers were used to spy on anti-fracking campaigners.”

For those not yet ready to organize or attend protests on the ground, Granter encourages people to get active by signing, or even starting their own Care2 petitions.

Photo Credit: Care2/YouTube


Jetana A
Jetana A3 months ago

This looks really useful. We could use a version of this here!

JoAnn P
JoAnn Paris3 months ago

Thank you for this very interesting article.

Sue H
Sue H3 months ago

Helpful information, thanks.

Philippa Powers
Philippa Powers2 years ago


Jax L.

Great article! Thank you!

Jax L.

Great article! Thank you!

John W.
2 years ago

Interesting, but somewhat paranoid about the Sussex Police.

Nina S.
Nina S2 years ago


caroline lord
caroline lord2 years ago

thank you