SOCPA Border Control
5th November 2006

The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 was recently introduced by the UK government. Slipped into this new law at section 132 there is a clause which bans protest within a zone stretching around a mile from Parliament, a map of the zone is here. If anyone wishes to protest within this zone, they must apply for police permission, one week in advance, after which the police can impose conditions such as the number of people allowed, duration and size of the protest. They may of course simply refuse permission.

Since the introduction of this new law the police have been using it widely to clamp down upon any freedom of speech within the designated area. Choice arrests include Steve Jago who committed the crime of having three copies of Vanity Fair Magazine on him, with a political article in it, also a lady who was threatened with arrest for having a cake with PEACE written in the icing.

Obviously scared of freedom of speech, our government have decided that we must now ask their permission to protest against them. They are obviously feeling the heat, and need to be surrounded by non-dissenting voices.

Citizens Supporting Government

In an effort to create wider awareness of this bizarre new law we decided to create a new organisation, meet the CSG (Citizens Supporting Government). Our mission was to patrol the border of the SOCPA zone and interrogate the public, in order to route out possible subversives. Armed with red tape to mark out the border, a welcome mat, questionnaires, brain scanners and labels we headed down to St James' Park in London to assist the Government and Police. Around 25 agents were in attendance, some having traveled from far and wide to join us.

Suited agents set up the CSG desk at the south east corner of St James' Park

Suitably attired in black suits and shades our agents began to stop and scan members of the public. People were informed that they were about to enter a zone of "No Freedom Of Speech" and that we would like to check them for subversive thoughts before entering (For the safety of the government).

Click to download the PDF questionnaire

We had produced a questionnaire to route out subversives, which had questions ranging from regular to surreal, for those who made it through this we also had a electronic brain scanning program (lovingly designed by agent Undecided) which could tell us for sure. Mounted in a briefcase with a DVD player and portable scanner this really was a work of art.

Agent Invisible Parsnip scans a tourists brain.

Once we had identified a subversive (pretty much everyone with a political thought in their mind) we labelled them up with a red sticker and informed them that the police would be keeping an eye on them as they walked through the zone.

As if by magic the Police arrive

Unfortunately no sooner had we started than the Police (the very people we were trying to help) turned up and started questioning our intentions. Worse still we had been stumbled upon by a trainee Policeman who wasn't even aware of the SOCPA law. He radioed for backup, which turned up in the form of a couple of Community Support Officers, who in turn radioed again, and before we knew it a bundle of her majesties finest were hanging out by our stall. Aside from some park regulations banning erections (I kid you not!) we were free to continue.

We took the opportunity to inform the Police of the new law in detail, and then point out possible subversives to them as we labelled people. The stall began to take on a new air of authority with our Police accompanyment, and it was much easier to stop members of the public. However after a time, hunger got the better of us and we headed off to lunch (and to lose our escort).

Just like Reservoir Dogs

Checking our maps we decided the best place for us to resume the action was on a roundabout at the south of Trafalgar Square. Just outside of the SOCPA zone it gave us just the right amount of space to collar people.

Greenman and Immo toe the line.

A quick bit of red tape on the floor, a welcome mat, and before you know it we hade another perfect border to patrol. After our previous practice run, this time our agents were much more adept at making our point. Agent Shaz broke out his loud hailer, whilst others stopped anyone who looked in the slight bit subversive.

Agents Greenman and Shaz question a potential subversive, and our men in black patrol the border.

Curiously the hardest part of our interaction with people was actually persuading them that the SOCPA law was a real thing. Many people simply couldn't believe that such a law could be passed in this country. It became clear that our action of harrassing people before they entered the zone made people start to question the law, and begin to get outraged by the audacity of it.

Agents Greenman, Spritely Monkey, Undecided and Willis stand guard, plus Undecided doing his secret service impression.

This time we were left un-hassled by the Police and several Hijackers joined us as we campaigned. However soon the cold got the better of us and we retired to the pub for a swift pint. On the whole everyone present thought the action had been a success, we certainly raised awareness of the law and the zone. A lot of the people we spoke to were really glad to have been informed, and were suitably unimpressed with the lack of freedom and erosion of civil liberties within this country.

Invisible Parsnip, Sarah, Zargof, Banannas, Willis and Undecided looking official.

Back to projects

Other links

Indymedia report
Bristly Pioneer's Photos
Willis' Photos