Basic definitions


A&LS - Arrestee and Legal Support Circle

Absolute discharge - a very rare sentence following a guilty plea or verdict when the judge or magistrates decide no penalty should be given. It does appear on a DBS.

Access to Justice (A2J) - set up through funds raised on the legal fundraiser. The Access to Justice scheme funds initial legal advice for all XR defendants through a list of protest experienced solicitors who have agreed to pre approved rates and level of support. Available to all XR defendants arrested at XR actions whilst there is sufficient funding.

Arrest - Read more about what happens when you are arrested here



Back office - BO - a phone number to call when arrests are made at a protest, collects witness statements and directs Police station support to the correct police stations

Bust Card - a card distributed to protesters that contains the back office number, and numbers for protest experienced solicitors, as well as our 5 key points of advice

BWV /BWF- Body Worn Video/ Footage (recording taken from a camera worn by a police officer)


Caution (or Police Caution)  may be offered in minor cases. If accepted there is no prosecution or criminal record but you have to admit guilt. It appears on a DBS. Conditions can be attached

Charge - This is when the decision is made by the police and/or CPS to prosecute you for an offence (not necessarily the one you were arrested for). You will be given a court date to appear in court and it’s up to you to make sure your solicitor knows that date if you want them to attend the hearing.

Conditional discharge - A sentencing order that no penalty is given following conviction as long as no further conviction happens within the period of the discharge (6 months to 3 years, decided by the court). The great majority of XR people who are found guilty or plead guilty in the magistrates’ courts have received a conditional discharge

Conviction - If you either plead guilty or are found guilty at court then you will have a conviction for the offence with which you were charged

CBO - Criminal Behaviour order/ Criminal Banning Order, terms are used interchangeably for this post conviction order

CPS - Crown Prosecution Service

Court costs - Also referred to as “prosecution costs”. These are costs you will be ordered to pay if you plead guilty or are found guilty. Not a fine, they are costs to cover the work carried out by the prosecution for your case.The judge or magistrates can reduce them

Crown Court - There are 71 Crown Courts in England and Wales where more serious criminal cases are heard by a judge and jury. Appeals from the magistrates’ courts also take place there


DJ - District judge. Hears cases in (usually) inner city Magistrates’ Courts sitting alone. Determines both verdict and sentence

DPP - Director of Public Prosecutions. Leads CPS


Either-way offence - A more serious offence. If pleading not guilty, defendants can choose whether their trial takes place in the Crown Court or in the magistrates’ courts. They are relatively unusual in protest cases but include large-scale Criminal Damage and Public Nuisance



Fine - A financial penalty imposed by a court given (in addition to court costs). A more serious penalty than a conditional discharge. Time to pay is usually given

FPN - Fixed Penalty Notice


GBC - Green and Black Cross - volunteer service helping with legal matters arising from protests and actions




ILON - Independent Legal Observer Network (separate group who organise ILOs for all actions)

Informed Dissent - Legal information website set up by the XR Legal Support Team as a library of previous legal research and statements

Injunction - A court order, usually awarded to private companies to prevent certain types of protest, for further reading see here



KYR - Know Your Rights - a training run by Legal Support to inform people of their rights when interacting with police at a protest


LO - Legal observer - an independent individual who attends protests where there is a potential for conflict between the police and protesters. The purpose of LO’s is to record any improper or unlawful behaviour of the police.


Magistrate - or Justice of the Peace. Hears cases in Magistrates’ Courts in benches of three. Unqualified and advised by a legal advisor (court clerk). A magistrate can also sign search warrants 


Magistrates’ courts - where the great majority of criminal cases are heard. Magistrates determine both verdict and sentence. Very rarely they can impose custodial sentences of up to 6 months


NFA - No Further Action - when the CPS or police decide to not pursue a case any further



Prosecutor - lawyer employed by CPS to present cases in court

Prosecution costs - See Court costs above

PAL - Post Arrest Liaison - telephone support post arrest

PSS - Police Station Support

PLO - Police liaison officers (police who are trained in evidence gathering)




RUI - Released under investigation 


Summary offence – A relatively minor offence that can only be dealt with in a Magistrates court and does not carry the risk of a custodial sentence. Section 14, Obstruction of highway, aggravated trespass are all summary offences


TSG - Territorial Support Group (another type of cop, who deal with public order situations)



Victim surcharge - A  charge applied to all sentences in addition to court costs. Courts cannot waive or reduce it. Currently £22 for a conditional discharge and £34 - £190 for a fine in the magistrates court 


WPB - Witnessing Police Behaviour - a training run by legal support