On 21 April, over 2000 authorised demonstrations (mostly consisting of just one person) were held in the area around London's Parliament Square, all having been applied for -- and granted permission -- under the SOCPA regulations.
This world record was achieved thanks to a mobilisation (including a fine half-hour programme on Radio 4) by comedian-activist Mark Thomas. In one day, the total number of such authorisations since the law was enacted in July 2005 was more than doubled.
Into Downing Street
On 21 April we discovered an unexpected consequence of the new law.
Back in the days of Margaret Thatcher's premiership, Downing Street was closed off with massive security gates, but it is still a highway. And it is in the area covered by SOCPA. And there is a legal presumption that requests for a SOCPA demonstration will be granted.
So ... some of that day's requests specified Downing Street as the site of a demo -- and they were allowed.
Watching demonstrators being escorted past Downing Street's armed security police by their SOCPA-administering colleagues was delightful. Especially since Mark Thomas himself was carrying a blue plaque saying “Tony Blair, Prime Minister and War Criminal, lived here 1997-2007”.
So beat the rush, and get your Downing Street demo applications in right away to The SOCPA Dept, Charing Cross Police Station, Agar Street, London WC2. Take them to Charing Cross Police Station by hand, or use Recorded Delivery, giving a clear week between receipt and the date of your proposed visit to Downing Street.