|Long title||An Act to abolish the common law offences of riot, rout, unlawful assembly and affray and certain statutory offences relating to public order; to create new offences relating to public order.|
|Citation||1986 c. 64|
|Introduced by||Douglas Hurd|
|Territorial extent||England and Wales|
|Royal assent||7 November 1986|
|Commencement||1 April 1987|
|Amended by||Football Spectators Act 1989, Broadcasting Act 1990, Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006, Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008|
|Text of statute as originally enacted|
|Revised text of statute as amended|
The Public Order Act 1986 (c 64) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It creates a number of public order offences. They replace similar common law offences and parts of the Public Order Act 1936. It implements recommendations of the Law Commission.
Before the introduction of the Public Order Act 1986, policing public order was based on various relevant common law offences, and the Public Order Act 1936. Several factors influenced the introduction of the Public Order Act 1986. Significant public disorder, such as the Southall riot in 1979, the Brixton riot that extended to other cities in 1981, and the national miner's strike and associated disorder between 1984 and 1985 - in particular the Battle of Orgreave in June 1984 - and the Battle of the Beanfield in June 1985. Furthermore, the 1983 Law Commission report, Criminal Law: Offences Relating to Public Order recommended updating the law.
The Law Commission stated its desire to further to extend the codification of the law in England and Wales. It advocated the abolition of the common law offences of affray, riot, rout, and unlawful assembly. It argued the changes it recommended to public order legislation made it more practical to use, and make the law more comprehensible to the courts and juries.
The long title of the Act details the intention of the Public Order Act 1986:
An Act to abolish the common law offences of riot, rout, unlawful assembly and affray and certain statutory offences relating to public order; to create new offences relating to public order; to control public processions and assemblies; to control the stirring up of racial hatred; to provide for the exclusion of certain offenders from sporting events; to create a new offence relating to the contamination of or interference with goods; to confer power to direct certain trespassers to leave land; to amend section 7 of the Conspiracy, and Protection of Property Act 1875, section 1 of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953, Part V of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980 and the Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol etc.) Act 1985; to repeal certain obsolete or unnecessary enactments; and for connected purposes.
This section defines the words "dwelling" and "violence".
Section 9(2) abolished the offences under:
If the act is intended to stir up racial hatred Part 3 of the Act creates offences of
Acts intended to stir up religious hatred are proscribed in POA Part 3A by the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 (RRHA) with the insertion of new sections 29A to 29N. The RRHA bill, which was introduced by Home Secretary David Blunkett, was amended several times in the House of Lords and ultimately the Blair government was forced to accept the substitute words.
To stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation was to be proscribed by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 in POA Part 3A section 29AB. This legislation was introduced by David Hanson MP.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2018)
The Act should be considered in connection with Article 11 of European Convention on Human Rights, which grants people the rights of (peaceful) assembly and freedom of association with others.
The police have been accused[by whom?] of misusing the powers in section 14 on several occasions. During the 2009 G-20 London summit protests journalists were forced to leave the protests by police who threatened them with arrest.
The "Reform Section 5" campaign was established in May 2012 to garner support for an alteration of section 5, and led to an increase in the threshold from "abusive or insulting" to strictly "abusive" for speech restricted by the act. It was reported that under section 5 alone, 51,285 people were convicted between 2001 and 2003, 8,489 of whom were between 10 and 17 years of age.
The campaign was supported by a range of groups and famous individuals. These included the National Secular Society, the Christian Institute, the Bow Group, Big Brother Watch, the Peter Tatchell Foundation and The Freedom Association. Actors Rowan Atkinson and Stephen Fry also voiced their support.
In 2013, a House of Lords amendment to a forthcoming Crime and Court Bill meant the removal of "insulting" from the definition of section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986. A subsequent House of Commons briefing paper acknowledged the government's acceptance of the amendment and detailed the reasons for its decision.