Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Now leafleting needs advance permission

A small example of how restrictions on freedom of assembly affect everybody:

"Two campaigners dressed as penguins were removed from Telford Town Park after being told they would need a criminal record check and risk assessment to hand out leaflets. [...] Telford & Wrekin Council, which manages the park, said anyone wanting to hand out information there had to give advance notice of who they were and what they were distributing. Spokesman David Morgan said: “They have to be CRB checked and risk assessed under the Child Protection Act. There are a lot of children playing in the park at this time of year and we have a duty of care to them and our adult visitors. “The people asked to leave had given no notice or information. We did not know who they were or what they were doing. Organisations and individuals should always plan ahead and get permission from the council before doing anything in the town park to avoid any problems or misunderstandings.”"
"Environmental campaigners who had dressed as penguins today defied a ban on handing out leaflets without permission in Telford Town Park. [...] Telford & Wrekin Council, which owns and manages the park, today defended its rules for the site. David Morgan, council spokesman, said there were many children in the park during the summer months and the council had a duty of care to them and adult visitors. He said: “People wanting to participate in an activity or stage an event need permission. It is not the authority being heavy-handed, it’s a legal requirement.”"
"Council staff on the lookout for paedophiles have been ordered to stop and quiz any adults found walking in Telford Town Park without a child, it was revealed today. [...] The policy came to light after two environmental campaigners dressed as penguins were thrown out of the park last month when caught handing out leaflets on climate change. [...] David Ottley, Telford & Wrekin’s sports and recreation manager, said in a letter seen by the Shropshire Star: "Our Town Park staff approach adults that are not associated with any children in the Town Park and request the reason for them being there.""
"The Government has today attacked a controversial borough council policy to stop and quiz childless adults who were spotted in Telford Town Park. The Home Office said Telford & Wrekin Council had no right to accost anyone innocently enjoying the park. It also said the council could not demand Criminals Records Bureau checks on anyone not working with children or vulnerable adults. But Telford & Wrekin Council bosses today said it was not a blanket policy covering the park but anyone seen acting suspiciously would be quizzed."
"Telford & Wrekin Council is to review its policy of stopping and questioning people in Telford Town Park in the hunt for paedophiles, it was revealed today. The authority says the review will end confusion over its policy and make it clear it does not have a “blanket” approach to stopping childless adults in the park."

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