Obstruction of the Highway

This power is often used to remove demonstrators who are standing outside buildings, sitting down blockading entrances or roads and in many public order situations.

You could be committing this offence if, without lawful authority or excuse, you willfully obstruct the free passage of the highway. The ‘highway’ includes the road, the pavement, grass verges and private property used as a public thoroughfare.

‘Obstruction’ includes anything that prevents passing and re-passing along the highway. You do not have to be blocking the whole width of the highway. The offence is obstructing the highway itself, not other highway users, so it is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that anyone was actually obstructed.

The obstruction has to be ‘willful’, so you will often be asked to move by the police, and if you do not, then this could be used as evidence of your ‘willful’ obstruction in cour

Sentencing starting point: conditional discharge, the maximum penalty is a fine of £1000. First time offenders would be likely to receive about £200.