Sir Hugh Lays Down The (Wrong) Law

I don’t want to intrude on the Labour party’s private grief, so I will instead respond to Sir Hugh Orde, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) who, for some reason, has taken it on himself to lay down what should happen regarding Islam4UK’s threatened march through Wootton Basset.
Sir Hugh is quoted today in the Telegraph as saying that the extremists “have the right to march … people might not like it but that is the law”.
Leaving aside whether that is consistent with the postion Sir Hugh took as Chief Constable in Northern Ireland, my first reaction is what on earth has it got to do with him.
Sir Hugh Orde heads an organisation which is a private company and has never been given any right to seek to interfere with police operational decisions, any more than it has a right to determine police policy.
By saying he would be “surprised” if they were to block the protest, Sir Hugh applies quite inappropriate pressure to Wiltshire’s Chief Constable, Brian Moore, and his excellent deputy, David Ainsworth, with whom I worked when he was an Assistant Chief Constable in Kent.
Sir Hugh is always terribly keen to assert the independence of chief constables when there is any suggestion that they should do what someone who has been elected wants, yet here he is sticking his nose into their operational decisions.
Second, there is a strong argument that Sir Hugh has got the law wrong. Section 13 of the Public Order Act 1986 states as follows:

13.— Prohibiting public processions.

(1) If at any time the chief officer of police reasonably believes that, because of particular circumstances existing in any district or part of a district, the powers under section 12 [imposing conditions] will not be sufficient to prevent the holding of public processions in that district or part from resulting in serious public disorder, he shall apply to the council of the district for an order prohibiting for such period not exceeding 3 months as may be specified in the application the holding of all public processions (or of any class of public procession so specified) in the district or part concerned.

(2) On receiving such an application, a council may with the consent of the Secretary of State make an order either in the terms of the application or with such modifications as may be approved by the Secretary of State.

Contrary to Sir Hugh’s view, the police in Wiltshire therefore do potentially have the power to ban a march – if the democratically elected local council and the democratically elected Secretary of State agree with them.

Further, it is far from clear that Sir Hugh can rely on the Human Rights Act in support of his view that Islam4UK should be allowed to protest at Wootton Basset in the manner threatened. Section 3(2)(b) states very clearly that the act “does not affect the validity, continuing operation or enforcement of any incompatible primary legislation”.

Moreover, the article 11 right is hedged with restrictions such that it should in any event be compatible with the power of Wiltshire police and those whom we elect to ban a march as threatened:

Article 11 – Freedom of assembly and association

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This Article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.

We will shortly be asking the electorate for a mandate on what needs to be done to make the police properly accountable to the public they serve. Sir Hugh’s comments emphasise just how overdue that is.


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Filed under ACPO, Armed Forces, direct democracy, kent police authority, mark reckless, Policing, rochester and strood, wootton bassett

9 responses to “Sir Hugh Lays Down The (Wrong) Law

  1. Will Jones

    There are two stark ironies in Hugh Orde’s position. Firstly, his assertion that the police should not be involved in politics. He appears to spend every day belching out statements on matters that are political, and his comments here are no different.

    Secondly, he spent his time in Northern Ireland banning a march going through an area where the majority of people didn’t want it – ever heard of Drumcree in Portadown? A couple of hundred Orangemen, who had walked the same route for 200 years were told by Orde that they would be stopped by any and all means, with Orde racking up hundreds of millions of pounds in policing costs to block a parade. He blocked the parade for every year he was Chief Constable of the PSNI. What sort of hypocrite then says a grossly offensive parade denigrating our glorious war dead and outraging the public has “every right to happen”?

    The Tories need to smash ACPO, a wretched creation on New Labour that jumps when they say how high, and does nothing to improve policing in this country. Questions need to be asked now on what this £18 million per year private business monopoly is doing with the taxpayer’s cash. Orde himself receives a salary of over £180k, a full police pension of 2/3 that amount again, a grace and favour flat, and a civil service pension for his time as ACPO President. And people thought the bankers were bad…

  2. Paul

    I have grave concerns about ACPO and hope that a future Conservative government will look very carefully at that organisation.

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  3. It was the public order act that was used last year in similar circumstances to ban marches in Luton by, among others, the English Defence League.

    Not I’m sure it’s not Sir Hugh Orde’s intention to imply that the law only applies to some parts of society and not others.

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  4. Sir Hugh, no doubt, has links to Common Purpose. This bunch are out to provoke civil strife in UK so they can invite EUROPOL onto our streets to “restore order”, and take the opportunity to flex their new POLICE STATE powers, as granted by the FASCIST LISBON TREATY.

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  5. Fred Storrey

    Well said Mark. We don’t just need common sense policing as you advocate, we need more common sense politicans like you who are willing to speak out. Thank you.

  6. Big Digger

    Mr Reckless seems to be hopelessly confused on this issue. One the one hand he (or rather Daniel Hannan) claims himself to be a libertarian (libertarian and Conservative – surely an oxymoron!), but here we have Mr Reckless calling on freedom of speech to be stifled. A rather unusual situation. Sir Hugh Orde n the one hand is defending the right of protest and freedom of speech whilst Mr Reckless seeks to stifle it. As I said, Mr Reckless seems to be hopelessly confused.

    • Brian Woods

      And Hugh Orde isn’t confused banning marches in Northern Ireland and then defending this vile Islam4UK march – far more offensive than any Orange parade?

      No matter how much of a Libertarian one is, there has to be a limit on free speech.

  7. Marie Harvey

    I suspect ‘Big Digger’ may be a troll. Mark Reckless has set out clearly the legal means by which this abhorrent protest may be curtailed, and he has also highlighted quite clearly the pure hypocrisy at the heart of Hugh Orde’s defence of the extremists who seek to cause so much damage to the memory of our honoured dead.

    I fully support Mark’s stance on this issue.

  8. As an inhabitant of the county in question not far from Wootton Bassett I see Hugh Orde’s interference as high handed and frankly worrying.

    It is my sincere hope that a new Westminster administration will terminate all contracts nationwide with ACPO, whose policies, governance and influence are at best opaque and at worst – well – I don’t know – and that’s the point = secretive direction of of our police forces by a non accountable private body – is that acceptable?

    As for Anjem and his pals – well – perhaps trimming their benefits might cramp their style – but the Guardianista PC brigade would have a hissy fit wouldn’t they?

    Wootton Bassett is being set up as a set piece confrontation by scumbuckets with equally deranged worldviews to the Islamoloons and deeply unpleasant motives want to use this town as a hobby horse to leverage their visibility and promote rotten agendas.

    Why is it that I suspect Mr. Orde might be amonst those folk?

    I’d like to be proved wrong.

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