Obstruction of Vehicular Access to Parliament

Section 76 of the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 amended the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 to increase what is known as the 'controlled area' around the Palace of Westminster. It also amended some of the specific activities which, when done in the 'controlled areas', are illegal. 

The full list of areas that this section refers to is as follows: "the highways in the postal district SW1 known as Bridge Street, Canon Row, Parliament Street, Derby Gate, Parliament Square, St Margaret's Street, and Abingdon Street", part of the highway known as Victoria Embankment that lies between the highway known as Bridge Street and Richmond Terrace, part of the highway known as Great College Street "as immediately adjoins Abingdon Street Garden", Old Palace Yard, Abingdon Street Garden (and its pathways) and Victoria Tower Gardens.

Before the commencement of the PCSC Act 2022, the following were already listed as 'prohibited activities' in Parliament Square or in the Palace of Westminster 'controlled area': 

  1. "operating any amplified noise equipment in the controlled area of Parliament Square or in the Palace of Westminster controlled area"
  2. "erecting or keeping erected" a tent or any other structure "which is designed solely or mainly for the purpose of facilitating sleeping or staying in a place for any period"
  3. "using any tent or other such structure in the controlled area of Parliament Square for the purpose of sleeping or staying in that area"
  4. "placing or keeping in place in the controlled area of Parliament Square any sleeping equipment with a view to its use (whether or not by the person placing it or keeping it in place) for the purpose of sleeping overnight in that area"
  5. "using any sleeping equipment in the controlled area of Parliament Square for the purpose of sleeping overnight in that area"

It is also now a 'prohibited activity' to obstruct vehicular access to the Parliamentary Estate, which can be described as an act that would make it more difficult or impossible for a vehicle to enter or exit the Parliamentary Estate. 

If a police officer has reasonable grounds for believing that a person is carrying out or about to carry out one of the 'prohibited activities', then the officer may direct the person to either stop the activity or to not start doing the activity. If a person does not comply with a direction from a police officer, then the person commits an offence under Section 143 Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011. If convicted, the maximum sentence is an unlimited fine.