Faslane 365 is asking a wide range of local, national and even international groups from all sections of civil society to come to Faslane with at least 100 people committed to stay and make their visions for a just and peaceful future visible for at least one period of 48 hours.
In this section you can find a lot of information your group needs to prepare for your blockade.
You can download the whole Resource Pack here.
This is available as a PDF file. If you can't view PDF files see here for help.
Note that the file comes layed out for printing as an A5 booklet, so the physical pages are A5 and each contains two pages of the booklet.
Preparation and planning is very often the key to success - also in civil resistance and direct action. A workshop can provide the basic tools for groups to organise and plan their own actions, as well as offering a space for practical skill sharing. The workshops are there for you and your group - they can be tailored to suit your requirements and needs. And don't forget: having fun while preparing and taking action is essential!
Taking direct action for or against something we are concerned about can be a very powerful way of expressing what we think and feel, let alone an effective tool for change. It can, however, be a big and slightly scary step to take for those of us who are first-timers, especially since it can have legal consequences. More experienced activists will hopefully already value preparation and training as a means to prepare yourself and your group, to build up your own self-confidence about the action and to build confidence and trust in each other. The workshops that Faslane 365 offer are there to prepare, empower and facilitate the process towards feeling comfortable and safe while taking action.
If you take part in Faslane 365 you are very likely to get arrested. Even if you are a support person, and arrest is less likely, it is important to be prepared for this. The workshop will deal with this and other fears and concerns - the more you know about the procedures and possible scenarios the safer and more confident you will feel when you take part in Faslane 365!
By actively participating in a workshop we get to know each other, talk about issues we are concerned about in relation to civil resistance, learn more about different tactics of for example blockading safely and effectively, or finding out more about the legal consequences and what happens when we get arrested. You might find that sharing these concerns with other people in a workshop like this will help you find your own ground, trigger you to explore what your boundaries are in terms of direct action and help you to feel better equipped for dealing with the different situations that can occur when you are 'out there' taking action.
Preparation and planning is very often the key to success - also in civil resistance and direct action. A workshop can provide the basic tools for groups to organise and plan their own actions, as well as offering a space for practical skill sharing. The workshops are there for you and your group - they can be tailored to suit your requirements and needs. And don't forget: having fun while preparing and taking action is essential!
The Faslane 365 Trainers Network can offer workshops to groups who want to prepare themselves for participating in the year-long blockade. We aim to tailor the workshops so that your specific needs are met in order for the participants to get the most out of the time they put in. Our workshops can run between 3 hours and a day (or possibly two evenings) - depending on what you would like us to cover.
We can help answering practical questions about Faslane and point towards useful sources for further information about civil resistance and direct action. We can also provide participants with handouts relevant to the workshops.
We would like to involve new people as co-facilitators in order to de-centralise the skills and ways of working as much as we possibly can. For this to happen we also offer workshops for people who want to become trainers themselves, providing a wide range of methods and techniques proven useful for facilitators of direct action workshops.
For any enquires about workshops please contact email@example.com.
We expect the participants to be seriously considering taking part in Faslane 365 in one way or another. This can be done through a variety of ways: by physically taking part in the blockades, functioning as support on the day of action and also in the lead up to your day at the gates, as drivers, media contacts and prop makers - there are so many different ways you can participate and support! And every role is equally important if we are to shut down Faslane, have fun and celebrate hope at the same time!
We expect the groups who would like a workshop in their area to find and book a suitable venue for it, advertise it in their area, make sure that possible participants find their way to the venue, and take care of other practical aspects of the workshop.
We expect the groups to provide us with information about what areas they would like us to focus on in the workshops and how many participants there will be.
We expect the groups to cover the travel costs of the 2 workshop facilitators (or one if they are providing a trained co-facilitator). If there is a need for it, we expect the facilitators to be offered simple accommodation somewhere close to where the workshop will be held.
These are some of the areas we can provide workshops on / include in a workshop:
If there are additional requirements other than those you can find in the list above please don't hesitate to contact us and we will see what we can do. We might need some time to prepare, so please let us know well in advance.
Over the past few months many 365-participants have expressed an interest in facilitation and how to run NVDA workshops in their own areas or groups. That's why we are offering a weekend of training for trainers, facilitated by experienced folk from Seeds For Change.
This will be a 2-day workshop in a Glasgow venue. Accommodation will be provided from Friday night and we suggest people arrive on Friday if possible. The workshop itself will start at 10:00 sharp (gather from 09:30) on Sat 28 April and will finish by 18:00 on Sun 29 April.
Please bring a sleeping bag and a mat - if you don't fancy sleeping on the floor then let us know and we will try to organise something more comfortable. Vegan and vegetarian food available. If there is interest and energy we will end the weekend with an action at a nearby navy establishment.
For more information and bookings, please email training at faslane365 dot org or call 0845 4588 365 and let us know if you are coming! This is a free event but donations most welcome - especially to our facilitators!
The following resources are available to assist in mobilising for Faslane 365. They are all available as PDFs or as Open Document Text files or MS Word files
Alternatively, you can download everything on this page as a .tar.bz2 file (222k) or as a zip file (300k)
Pre-Meeting Checklist for Mobilisers
Notes for Mobilisers Introductory Talk
Agenda for 2 Hour Mobilisation Workshop
"I Could Do That If..." Exercise
Explanation of the "I Could Do That If..." Exercise
Excerise for Helping Connect People in Small Groups
End of Meeting Checklist (for mobilisers)
The questionnaire below aims to make it easier for you to indicate what your group might be willing to take on. Please fill in the name of your organisation on the dotted lines and DELETE the YES or NO leaving your decision clear. But please do not be restricted by these questions. You can add your own ideas or adaptations at the bottom of the page. If you would like to talk over any of the suggested actions then please do not hesitate to call us.
Please complete and return to firstname.lastname@example.org
or telephone Angie on 07768 312676
It is important to establish communication with the previous group well ahead of your blockading days. That group will be a vital source of current conditions at the base and for passing on learning and experience. We will give you the necessary contacts when we have them.
At the blockade identify at least one person at each gate who can communicate with other gates via mobile phone. The coverage is better for some mobile networks - overall Vodafone seems to be the best at present. It is important to share information on the progress of the blockade at each gate so that tactics can be adapted if necessary (e.g. moving some blockaders to a gate where there is a risk of the blockade being removed.) One or two bikes can also be useful to move from one gate to another.
Sharing groups will need to discuss what aspects of the practical arrangements they will need to share, such as which gate or gates a group will blockade and the extent to which they will share support facilities.
The basic plan for the everyday Faslane 365 blockade is to close all four gates of the Faslane base nonviolently, using our bodies by either lying or sitting on the roadway in front of the gates. With at least 100 new blockaders coming each day the suggestion is to get about 25 blockaders, plus five support people, at each gate. We want to stop all traffic from getting into the base for as long as possible by using our bodies and our imagination to block the entrances. No one should do anything that they are unhappy with. Usually the police only arrest people who refuse to move from the roadway and not the support crew but we cannot guarantee what the police will do when such a long-term and potentially successful initiative will continue day after day after day.
In the past people have blockaded by standing, sitting or lying across the road with their arms linked. People often go limp when arrested making it harder for the police to move them off the road.
The blockade is more effective if groups chain themselves together or chain themselves to objects around the gate area. To make it more difficult for the police to cut chains or wires, people join their hands through metal, plastic or cardboard tubes and lock their hands together using karabiners (climbing clips) attached to chains or rope around their wrists.
The lock-on tubes have to be long enough to prevent the police sliding them along people's arms to reveal the chain or rope, which they then can easily cut. Care has to be taken not to let the police suspect you plan to use this kind of equipment as in the past they have arrested people for having lock-on tubes or chains around their wrists. Considering the nature of the project, with people showing up continuously over such a long period of time, it is very likely that the police will stop and search every vehicle and pedestrian that approaches the base - and therefore also confiscate any equipment before it gets used. So you'll need to use your imagination! Tubes can be disguised as part of fancy-dress costumes, as part of street theatre props, as dummy missiles or in old rucksacks - use your imagination!
Although the basic idea of Faslane 365 is to blockade the base, there is nothing that suggests that you can't do other things as well. You can for example cut the perimeter fence, get inside the base, get onto a gate and refuse to come down, put graffiti on fences, notices, tarmac, if you have a boat or like swimming you can do water actions - there are lots of other creative actions apart from blockading. If you are interested in finding out more about these activities (the practicalities and the legal implications are different but not necessarily more serious than the blockade) you can visit this web site or ask any of the trainers in a workshop.
This is a checklist to help Blockading Groups with their preparation. It might look a bit daunting at first but don't worry - there's a lot of experience to support you and a lot of others in the same boat
Welcome to the latest update from Faslane 365. I'm sorry that this comes on the same day as the Newsletter, but they contain somewhat different information and go to different groups. PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU SHARE THIS UPDATE WITH THE REST OF YOUR GROUP.
It has been an eventful few weeks: The “biggest” story has been the local protest against our protests, more of which below. We've now had over 100 days of presence and very nearly 700 arrests. There has been a couple more prosecutions ― please read the legal update below.
We have also been getting feedback that people want some form of collective event to end Faslane 365 at the end of September. We are only halfway through, of course, and we are still looking for more groups to sign up ― or groups to sign up for second (or third or ...) slots. Does your group want to do another slot?
That said, we have a proposal for a couple of events to look at where we go after Faslane 365 and for a celebratory combined blockade on October 1st. However, we need feedback and input. If we don't get sufficient feedback that people want this, or enough people offering to help make it happen, we won't do it. See below for more.
Also, can we ask that group which is planning to camp get in touch with Jane on coulportcamp at tridentploughshares dot org (not because of the TP camp but because there are some logistical and other issues around camping that we want to make people aware of ― she just happens to be also involved in organising the TP camp!)
There have been over 100 days of presence since Faslane 365 started. Many of these have been blockading days. All blockades hold up base traffic but because of the volume of traffic going into the base during the morning rush hour the tailbacks often causes local people to be held up too. Also some groups who have felt that they won’t be able to get into the gateway due to the heavy police presence have blocked the main roads. This holds up a lot of base workers but also has an impact on locals.
The blockade by the German group on 28 March which blocked the main road just south of the peace camp for 3 hours seemed to have brought things to a head locally. So on Monday 2 April a group of local people marched from Garelochhead to protest against us.
We had heard that it was going to happen as there were people going door to door to in Garelochhead telling people about it. The Faslane 365 Steering Group worked out an approach to take. We decided to go to the North gate and be a quiet, respectful presence and if possible take the opportunity to listen to local concerns and explain why we chose to protest the way we do. We reluctantly asked the Clowns not to come to the North gate at that time in Clown costume as we thought the locals might misinterpret that. After a long consensus decision making process the Clowns agreed to this.
On Monday morning we went to our usual spot near the north gate and put up our banners along with some new ones saying “We all want to return to normal, but nuclear weapons are not normal” and “Nuclear weapons are bigger than Argyll and Bute”. About 8am a group of 100 people arrived from Garelochhead. They were pretty quiet but had lots of creative placards. The BBC and some other media were there and both sides did interviews. Gradually the F365 folk started crossing the road and began listening and talking. The conversations were about both the nature of our protests and about nuclear weapons. Clearly the blockades are causing a lot of anger and upset and we knew this would probably happen if the police didn’t do all they could to minimise the effects to through traffic. However, it was very hard to hear about this directly from people. The young folk who had missed days at school and even exams were particularly passionate.
You can read more about the protest and the local concerns in the No Nukes Northants blockade report on the Faslane 365 website at www.faslane365.org/no_nukes_northants_blockade_report.
Although we contacted the school some time ago and asked them to tell us when exams were on we have not heard back from them. From the SQA website we know that Standard Grades and Highers are basically during May and we’ve already contacted blockading groups coming throughout May to ask them to consider blockading after the school buses have passed. School pupils pointed out that the two weeks at the end of April up to the exams were also very important, although others said that every school day counts.
We have since met with the police. We stressed that we cannot represent blockading groups but made clear that as groups come here with the intention of disrupting the ongoing illegal activity at the base they will most certainly continue to blockade at whatever point they are able to effectively do so. We suggested ways in which the policing could be changed to give groups more options of how to effectively disrupt the base without impacting on local people who are not connected to the base. Inspector Gavin Bone from Helensburgh Police Office took careful note of our suggestions and will report back to us next week after he has talked to his senior officers. The kind of things we suggested were; getting the base traffic to go and park up somewhere until the road is clear as has been done before during Big Blockades, allowing groups to go into the gateway to blockade and then deal with them so at least the main road would be clear or even investigating giving locals passes so that blockades could be lifted to let them through and then re-establishing the blockade.
The local newspaper, the Helensburgh Advertiser covered the anti-protest protest. The previous week they had printed 5 questions from local people to Faslane 365 and our responses. See this on the website here.
Feelings are still running high around Faslane. A car drove slowly up and down past the Peace camp on Tuesday night and eventually a bottle was thrown through the windscreen of a van where someone was staying although no one was hurt. Everyone from Faslane 365 and Faslane Peace Camp is staying calm and much discussion is taking place. There are a number of other local initiatives underway to improve dialogue between protesters and local people and we are working to find ways to minimise disruption. If any upcoming blockading group wants to talk things through with the Steering Group please get in touch by phoning 07768 312676 or email email@example.com. However, for now it is clear that the blockades will continue. In spite of what the MOD says the action is having a very disruptive affect on the base. And as no –one can answer us as to what else we can do to put pressure on the Government, non-violently then our strategy still seems valid.
There are a number of things to feedback on the legal front since the last Update.
As we said in the last update, all 12 of the Coventry group are being prosecuted (they were handed citations instead of warning letters on release). They all pled Not Guilty (by letter) and got trial dates ranging from May 14th to October 17th! The reason why some trials are so far away is because they all asked for an accessible court room. The actual court building in Helensburgh isn’t accessible, so they book a local community hall when they need an accessible court room and this hall isn’t available for six weeks in the summer. We were told by a senior police officer that the reason that Coventry had all been prosecuted was that there was a new policy that people who blocked the road instead of the gates would be prosecuted. However, since then the German group blocked right across the main road south of the Peace Camp for over three hours and were released with warning letters!
Meanwhile we have had our first prosecution to be completed: a member of the peace camp who was prosecuted for their blockade in December. He decided to change his plea to Guilty at the start of the trial and was fined £100.
Since then there has been one more group of prosecutions in rather different circumstances. Eight of the Oxfordshire group had locked on with tubes. The tubes had a bolt in the middle the end of which was covered with old tin can lids. The whole arrangement was covered with plaster. The edges of some of the tin can lids were quite sharp and the police have interpreted it as their being there to make it dangerous for the police to cut them out. They charged five of the eight with Culpable and Reckless Conduct and released them on an Undertaking to come back to court. We don’t yet know what the charge they will actually be prosecuted on is and won’t until their next court date. The other three were charged just with Breach of the Peace and released with warning letters. (We had had a meeting with the police in February where they had expressed concern about a lock-on which had had saw blades in the concrete, but this was quite explicitly on the grounds that they could shatter.) In this case, the police did ask the blockaders if there was anything in the lock-on which could injure them and they, quite truthfully, replied that they didn’t know, as the people actually blockading didn’t know about the construction of the tubes. We don’t yet know if this charge is going to go anywhere --- we clearly hope not. Had they denied that there was anything dangerous in the tube, they would be in a much more difficult position, legally, than not knowing. People should think about the tube and, if they didn’t make it themselves might want to ask what’s in it. You should also be prepared to answer the question about whether it is dangerous. You may wish to respond by giving an idea of the materials in it, rather than an opinion on whether they are dangerous (which depends in large part on the skill of the cutting team).
Clearly it would be a breach of our nonviolence guidelines to put anything in a lock-on which was designed to injure anyone (and we’re sure the Oxfordshire group didn’t). However, it can appear very different to the cutting team halfway through cutting you out. Try to avoid using things with sharp edges. When designing a lock-on try to put yourself in the position of the person cutting you out --- and remember they may not approach from what you consider to be the “top”.
Can we also take this opportunity to ask that the Legal Support Team (or person) within each Blockading Group contact the Legal Working Group on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07768 312678 at least two weeks before your group comes up.
We’re only just halfway through Faslane 365 but a number of people and groups have already been asking what we plan to do to end the project at the end of September and where we will go from there. Given the feedback we have got so far we are proposing the following two events:
A celebration of what we have achieved, taking the form of a blockade of Faslane (what else!), on Monday 1st October. The idea being that as many people or groups as want to who have taken part in Faslane 365 get together for a celebratory ending of the project. The preceding weekend (29th/30th September) would have an element of “Where Next?” discussion (see below) on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, some sort of social/storytelling/film showing event on Saturday night and then Sunday afternoon and evening would be action planning for the Monday. This is not set in stone and we want more feedback and, if some sort of event is to happen, we will need people to volunteer to help make it happen.
As well as the "Where Next?" element to the event at the end of September we are considering facilitating a “Where Next?” type event on the last weekend in July. This is because any follow on to Faslane 365 might have to get started before the end of September!! There are many strands within an apparently simple question such as "Where Next?" ― most noticeably "where next for whom?" As we cannot make decisions for other anti-nuclear groups our primary focus would be on "where next for the energy raised by Faslane 365?" There will, inevitably, be consideration of questions such as "where next for anti-nuclear campaigning/direct action in Scotland or in the UK as a whole?" This event would not be restricted to people who had focussed on Faslane 365 and we would welcome input and involvement from other groups. This idea is very much in it’s early stages. The questions as posed above are an attempt to start a discussion, not a description of what the event will actually be. We need feedback on whether people want an event of this sort as early as the end of July? Are there people who want to put significant energy into anti-nuclear direct action beyond Faslane 365 and who want to get together with like-minded people in this fashion? Unless we get feedback that people want this then we won’t organise it!
Please respond to email@example.com or ring 0845 45 88 365 with any feedback or ideas.
That's all for now folks. We're looking forward to another six months of effective blockading and, hopefully, real progress towards a nuclear-free world.
We are now into our 6th month of blockading. We have had 59 Blockading Groups covering 83 days of presence. With thousands having taken part now there have been 576 arrests resulting in only 22 prosecutions so far (see Legal Update below). It has been an empowering experience for people with many first time arrests and with lots of groups tackling the organisational and support work with dedication and thus building up useful skills for sustainable civil resistance.
We have another 40 groups booked into the Rota but July and September are very empty at the moment and we have no firm bookings for August although a Japanese group will probably be coming over from Nagasaki at the beginning of August – they have yet to give us a firm date. So please book more dates as and when you can. Keeping up this people power resistance is going to be crucial in the coming months – whichever way the vote in Westminster goes. We cannot afford to relax until our present nuclear weapon system is dismantled.
We have a basic p.a. system with 2 small box speakers and a basic amp which can have 2 microphones plugged into it or a microphone and CD player. It can also be wired to play mp3/ipod via a cd player. We also have a small petrol driven generator to power it if required. Please contact BEN TALLENTS at faslane365-pa at hotmail dot co dot uk with as much notice as possible. If you want to use this system.
Anna-Linnea is pleased to announce that we are going to have facilitators from Seeds For Change Lancaster running an NVDA training for trainers over the weekend 28-29 April 2007 in a Glasgow venue, with possibly an action at a nearby establishment the day afterwards. This depends on how folk are feeling after a weekend of concentration but would be a good opportunity to get a first hand experience of all the stuff we are talking about in the training sessions and also, another spanner in the works for the MoD.
A more detailed agenda will be circulated and available on the website soon, but please start spreading the word already now to all those people who have expressed an interest in facilitation during your workshops or people you think might want to join us. This training for trainers will be looking at Faslane 365 specifically but will include lots of stuff which is applicable to general NVDA as well. For more info contact Anna-Linnéa on training at faslane365 dot org or 07788-503761.
Police have reported that some of the concrete lock-ons have had old saw blades embedded in them and that these fracture when being cut through and that a policeman was slightly hurt the other week from the flying pieces. They quite understand our desire to build and experiment with lock-ons that are difficult to get through but wanted us to pass on this information in the hopes that we would only use materials that will not cause damage to the people cutting through them to release us. He also indicated that they would consider more serious charges if saw blades were used in lock-ons in that way again. Regardless of the threat of more serious charges, we feel that this is a reasonable request and in accordance with our guidelines, and that we should try and use other materials.
Inspector Kenny Boyter has moved on to become a Chief Inspector at Campbeltown. He has always been a professional and fair police officer with whom we have been able to liaise in a responsible and helpful manner over many years. We wish him well in his new posting. The officer replacing him is Inspector Gavin Bone. We have met with him once and he seems also to be willing to keep on the constructive dialogue to enable us all to keep the policing and acts of civil resistance against weapons of mass murder as nonviolent and peaceful as we all want it to be. If any groups wish to engage in any personal and direct police liaison work for their blockading group he can be contacted on 01436-633633 or at Gavin.Bone at strathclyde.pnn.police.uk
We have now had 576 arrests for blockading Faslane with 22 of these people facing prosecution. While this is still a very small proportion, it has crept up slightly recently and people are asking why these people were prosecuted.
Some of the prosecutions are down to very specific circumstances. The Captain of the Greenpeace ship for example! Or someone who (allegedly) was planning to blockade with a van with a lock-on attached for the second time in a week. Two people from the Peace Camp are being prosecuted for blocking the main road with concrete barrels ― described by the police as a barricade not a blockade.
You also increase your chance of being taken to court if you personally are arrested for blockading often enough. It seems that the third or fourth time provokes a prosecution. Someone arrested seven times has court cases from the fourth arrest on…….and counting!
There was one group, from Coventry, where all 12 people arrested were released from the police office with citations (the start of a prosecution) instead of warning letters. We have delayed sending out this update to see what happened with the next groups to see if this was a new pattern or not. Since then there have been a couple of prosecutions from the Pensioners block but they had all blockaded a couple of times already and were likely to be prosecuted anyway. The two arrests of Diana and Nick’s block were released early the next morning with no paperwork while the 10 arrests in the Quaker block were released with the usual warning letters. As such, it doesn’t look like a policy of prosecuting everyone. It’s possible that Coventry was a one-off or that it will be less predictable in future, with some groups getting prosecuted and others not, but the warning letters still seem to be widely used.
For anyone who is being prosecuted we have recently added more information to the Legal section of the website about the process and procedure and what it all means. You should get support from your Blockading Group and the Legal Working Group are happy to answer questions. Also, you get all sorts of opportunities for further awareness raising and media work!
If anything changes we will let you know. PLEASE MAKE SURE THE LEGAL SUPPORT TEAM IN YOUR BLOCKADING GROUP CONTACTS THE LEGAL WORKING GROUP AT LEAST A WEEK BEFORE YOU COME UP. If there is any new information we will pass it on to the group through your Legal Team ― it really helps if we have the on-the-day contact numbers for your Legal Team as well if anything comes up at the last minute. If your Legal Support Team has any questions or concerns we can usually help.
Finally, we thought it would be helpful to summarise what the options are for what can happen on release:
This is what has happened to the vast majority of people arrested so far in Faslane 365. The warning letter is from the Procurator Fiscal (PF ― the prosecutor in Scotland) and says he could prosecute you but won’t this time.
A citation is the first step in a prosecution. It sets out what the charge against you is and has a form you can fill in and post back to plead (Not Guilty or Guilty).
You could simply be released and told you will be written to by the PF. You may then receive a warning letter or a citation (or a fixed penalty notice) by post.
This is a bit like a speeding ticket in that it’s a fine which, if you pay it, does not lead to a criminal record. If you don’t pay then they will usually send you a citation and prosecute in the usual way. This has only been used for one person so far in Faslane 365.
This is where the police give you a document to sign before releasing you in which you agree to come back to court on a specified day. Once you have signed it, it becomes an extra offence not to come to court that day. However, you are perfectly entitled to refuse to sign it. The police must still either release you or take you to court on the next working day following the arrest. If you have already been held overnight (to a working day) and are asked to sign an undertaking to an inconvenient date then your best approach is probably to refuse to sign. The police will then either let you go, hold you another couple of hours while they get a citation sent over to give you (this is what has happened with the only person to do this so far) or take you to court that day.
They can take you to court while still in custody. The court would usually then release you on bail (bail does not involve money in Scotland but does involve conditions ― turning up to court and not committing offences whilst on bail are standard conditions and they could add special conditions such as not to go near Faslane).
We have now completed the 3rd month of blockades at Faslane. 42 Blockading Groups have covered 59 days with a variety of banners, lock-ons, witnessing, singing and poetry (to see each group's reports and pictures go to the Rota on the website (www.faslane365.org) and click on whichever group you are interested in). 429 people have been arrested for blockading during this time, but only 4 will be facing court, as the Procurator Fiscal has decided that the vast majority of us should be free to continue our nonviolent disruption of the unlawful activities at Faslane! See Legal Support Notes below. How long our 'immunity' will last is debatable but we urge you all to make full use of the freedom it gives us to continue blockading.
According to the Helensburgh Advertiser, who asked a question under the Freedom of Information Act, it cost £1.75 million to police the first month alone! We do not consider that our nonviolent disruption of preparations for mass murder should be policed at all and continue to call upon the police to investigate the crimes going on inside Faslane and to help us put an end to war crime preparations.
There has also been constant reporting in the same local newspaper of discontent about the blockades causing long delays on the road that leads past the base, including school buses and locals trying to get to work, shop or go to the hospital. Not all of the delays have been our responsibility but some undoubtedly have been, as quite a few of the blockades have been very effective at preventing unlawful traffic getting into the base and, while the blockaders are being cut out of their lock-ons, taken down off their tripods, out of huge CND symbols, off their locked bikes, prised from their dancing partners arms, the tailbacks have sometimes reached right back into Helensburgh.
Whilst Blockading Groups presumably are not intending to disrupt the lawful life of the community it is inevitable that the more effective blockades will cause some local people some disruption. The Steering Group have suggested to the police and through them to the base, that the work hours be changed so that the blockades will be finished by the time most local people are on the move to work and school. The 7,000 workers enter through the South and North Gates at Faslane between 6.30a.m. and 8a.m. each week-day morning and between 4.30p.m. and 6p.m. each evening. If the traffic went in at 5.30a.m. in the morning and left at 2p.m. in the afternoon then the disruption to local people not working at the base would be minimal.
However, bearing in mind the number of local people working at the base there is bound to be quite a bit of local discontent. Hopefully, everyone will be able to empathise with the dilemma of workers who have never before considered that their jobs might be criminal and who need to work to support their families. However, it may now be time for a real debate about whether servicing a base whose prime aim is the threat of mass destruction can now be considered a normal or acceptable job and whether any responsible society can permit these 'jobs' to continue. There are many important and worthwhile jobs that could be created with the wasted money that finances the Faslane Naval Base and which could contribute to building a better society rather than destroying it. Anyway, whatever our views on these issues please be aware that some local feelings are running high and that our nonviolence guidelines should enable us all to stay courteous and nonviolent even if confronted with angry locals. So far, groups have faced very little local hostility and we hope that this continues.
The local concerns about children being late or even missing school will obviously increase during the exam period in May. Faslane365 will continue throughout this time but you may want to consider blockading in such a way as to reduce the impact on the school children. The exams last from Monday 30 April to Friday 8 June inclusive although we think that the Helensburgh school doesn’t do any of the subjects in the last week. The school buses pass Faslane around 8.30am and school starts at 8.55am. If you want more information before picking your dates please contact the Steering Group.
The Faslane 365 Steering Group have continued to have frequent discussions with the Strathclyde and MoD police to discuss issues that have arisen. We have continued to state that we cannot and would not negotiate on behalf of autonomous groups but will pass information back and forth. The Strathclyde and the Mod Police whilst still not recognizing their own role in propping up criminal activities at Faslane and whilst not being willing to confront the State on its breaches of international humanitarian law, nevertheless are appreciative of our commitment to nonviolence and, like us, wish to make sure that no-one gets hurt and that our right to protest is maintained. They have, however, been particularly concerned about blockades being established on the main roads, rather than at the gates, and especially concerned at the 'barricades' as they have termed them (the use of the concrete filled barrel lock-ons, for instance) that took almost 3 hours to clear. We have continued to observe, and feed-back to them, that if Blockading Groups feel they are unable to blockade the actual gates (because of the heavy police presence) then they may well feel entitled to blockade the roads (as close to the gates as they are able to get) in order to disrupt the unlawful activities of the Faslane Base.
Blockading Groups would do well to check on the police presence before they blockade in order to try to keep the blockading as near to the gated entrances to the base as possible rather than just assuming they have no chance of getting to the gates. Please call your Steering Group Liaison person or the Steering Group phone (07768-312676) if you want up-to date information.
Some of the more symbolic blockades (the Clergy and Iona Block or the Power of the Word and Song Block for instance) have been policed in such a way as to allow the blockaders to get to the gate and be there for a little while before being arrested. Those Blockading Groups who have blocked the North and South Gates simultaneously with effective lock-ons are of course the groups that the police have most 'difficulty' with and that we are most delighted with! The police are obviously being subjected to considerable pressure from the base to keep the gates open and from the public to keep the roads unblocked. Our 'confrontation' in its diverse forms is raising the pressure and this is beginning to be felt, not only by the police but also by the base personnel and the politicians. We need to keep the pressure up and if possible raise it whilst keeping calm and nonviolent.
It might be interesting for you to know that the Christmas Crackers Blockading Group were approached by the police to see if they might cancel their blockade and thus allow more police to take time off to be with their families over Xmas. The Group therefore negotiated and reached agreement that if the main North Gate could be closed over the 3 days then they would stay there and not attempt to close the South Gate as well, you can read more about this by looking at the website report on the Christmas Crackers Block.
Safety issues need to be stressed over and over again. Please bear in mind that we do not want anyone to be hurt or to cause any accidents on the roads. Consider having a couple of people, wearing high visibility vests, on each side of the road to slow down traffic and keep watch over the blockaders. Put yourself in the place of the driver and imagine what they are feeling and are able to do, don't just dart out and expect the vehicle to notice you in time to slow down.
Faslane 365 is starting to attract much more media attention but this could be greatly enhanced by more Blockading Groups taking pictures and getting our their reports on the day of the action, minutes or hours, rather than days, after the action. Try and make sure you have a dedicated press person with a laptop and digital camera who can put out the press releases plus a picture while it is all happening. Do contact local and national media a few days before you arrive to line up radio and TV interviews etc. If you need access to an internet connection then contact the Steering Group to see if they can direct you to one of our local supporters who might be able to let you use their internet connection for an hour or two.
Also note that Faslane 365 has now been made an action topic within UK Indymedia http://www.indymedia.org.uk Anyone can publish their report and photos, video footage etc. to Indymedia and if they tick the box for Faslane, then all the reports will be kept together in one big action topic.
We need your help to find new people and groups to take on a Block in the Blockading Rota. Please talk about your experiences if you have already done a Block and either book another date in the Rota and/or find new groups and encourage them to take responsibility for keeping the blockades going. The Steering Group have provided a structure and support but it is a joint responsibility to keep the Rota going. The impact of civil resistance depends on sustaining it at a great enough pressure for long enough to effect change. We have made a great start but need to sustain the pressure and not give up until we know that Trident will be dismantled and there will be no replacement of WMD. There is a great need for groups to come along in April and May (around the Scottish elections) and then in June and July (to remind the newly elected representatives of their responsibilities under international humanitarian law). If you know of groups who would like to hear about Faslane 365 and you cannot provide a speaker yourself then do pass on the contact details to us so we can find someone to go along. If you can think of magazines and newsletters where we should be inserting our new leaflet then again please let us know.
Numbers in Blockading Groups
As you may have noticed most Blocks have numbered around 40 to 50 people (the smallest was 1 and the largest 90 so far. This is not the 100 we had originally envisaged. We think it is important to continue to aim for 100 plus blockaders and keep the vision but to recognise that each blockading group has its own character, shape and a life of its own. The important thing is to keep the blockades coming, to train more and more people in nonviolent resistance and empower more people to come along. So do not be put off if you can only get a few people to come along – there are plenty of dates left free in the Rota, so please do join in.
Some groups have suggested a big get together event at the end of the year - possibly a weekend event culminating in a Big Blockade - Sat 29th to Sun 30th September for a Conference/Workshops on 'Where now after 365 days of blockading?' and Mon 1st October a Big Blockade! This would be a Celebration and also incorporate action planning on how to build more effective civil resistance (if this is still needed by then!). It is an attractive thought to bring all the groups together to get a feeling of our strength and share ideas and knowledge but it could be a non-blockade in that the police are likely to just close the base for the day like they did for the 1,000 plus people who turned up for the G8 blockade in the summer of 2005. Also, the idea of Faslane 365 is sustainable long-term blockading pressure, not a one-off event, so it would be a shame if people went away thinking that was it!. However, if groups think it is something they want to happen then maybe a few would like to take on the organising of it? Let us know what you think and if you want to help organise it.
Meanwhile, you might like to consider combining the strengths of different groups. Have a look at the blockading group reports on the website and see if there are other groups you feel an affinity with or with whom you would like to combine forces with. Several groups could take on the North and some others the South Gate for instance.......you just need to liaise over when and how, to make sure the blockades complement each other for maximum disruption......if you want advice or contact details let us know.
Please also consider booking another date in the Rota if you have already done your first block. Most groups said they had learnt a lot in their first blockade, so why not put that experience to good use and do another block?
We have produced a set of 4 cards in colour with envelopes. £2 per pack (inclusive of p&p). The cards have been produced in order to raise awareness of Faslane 365 and to raise funds. The cards are a collage of the different banners that have been brought to the Faslane 365 blockades during the first 2 months (October and November) and also include a photo of one blockade. Each of the 4 cards contains different banners and photos and is blank inside so that they can be used as general greetings cards. We will produce another set as the months go by and maybe by the end of the year we will have a set of 12 different cards. If you want to order some then please contact cards at faslane365 dot org and include your name and address and number of packs required. Make cheques payable to 'Faslane365' and send to Valley Farmhouse, East Runton, Cromer, Norfolk, NR27 9PN. Once your cheque had been received the cards will be mailed to you.
Some Blockading Groups have asked whether we have a t-shirt or badges. We have not had time to do these but if any of you would like to do so then please go ahead and let us know so we can include information in our next update.
Dr David Kirkland wants to support Faslane 365 and attract media coverage. He is an experienced long distance runner, competing at county standard,and wants to run from the Scottish border to Faslane to lie in front of the gate. He wants people to contact him who might be willing to put him up overnight, lend him a (lightweight) white poppy costume, or help him maximise the publicity. He also wonders if someone might be willing to travel up to Faslane with him to each overnight and rest stop, and then back south with him. He has already booked holiday off work and wants to run sometime between the 20th and 26th of January so if any of you can help him please do contact him on dkirklandone at hotmail dot com
Prosecutions - Three people so far have been released with undertakings to appear at Helensburgh District Court. They all had difficult lock-ons and have now pled not guilty to Breach of the Peace. They were put on bail (a condition of which is to not commit any offence otherwise they could be charged with breach of bail).
One other person has receive a citation to Helensburgh District Court after her fourth arrest since Oct 1st. She can put in a plea by post. Please let us know if you hear anything from the Court so we can keep everyone up to date.
Procurator Fiscal will return all property when not prosecuting – the items removed from blockades which could be potentially used as evidence have been taken to Dumbarton Police Station. We discovered that the Procurator Fiscal had given an instruction to the Productions Officer there to destroy all lock-on material: tubes, clips, D-locks, chains etc. The Faslane 365 Legal Working Group wrote to the PF to explain why he couldn’t just take peoples property and destroy it without even a court case. In fact even after conviction it is only the court that can order that your property should be destroyed, not the PF. We have received a reply from the PF that from now on people will have the opportunity to collect their property if they are not being prosecuted.
Some of you may have already received letters from Thomas Kane, the Productions Officer, about this. We spoke to him this week and he acknowledges that as many people come from some distance away and that there is a two month time limit to collecting property we can simplify things by nominating a couple of local people who can collect items on behalf of others. If you want us to help with this please send the letter you received from the police and an authorisation letter along the lines below to Olivia Agate, 1 up right, 41 East Clyde St, Helensburgh G84 7NY. It would be helpful if you could also let us know how big or heavy the things are and whether you want us to hold on to them for you or if we can recycle them to other blockaders. Obviously some things are pretty useless – like lock-on tubes with holes in so we would prefer you to let the police get rid of those. Small items could be posted to you if you refund the postage. Please contact us as soon as you can so we have time to arrange collection before it’s too late.
If you had things taken and have not heard about them from the police you could write to the Productions Officer at the address below or try phoning on his direct line 01389 822063 (7am – 3pm Monday – Thursday). It seems unlikely that any lock-on material from before 11 November is still there, though banners, costumes etc. might be.
If you have any questions about this then you can contact Jane on the Legal Support Phone 07768-312678 or email her on legalworkinggroup at faslane365 dot org
To Thomas Kane
Strathclyde Police Headquarters
Thank you for the letter informing me that you are releasing my property.
I am unable to collect it myself.
The property I wish to collect consists of:-
I authorise either of the following people to collect it on my behalf :-
1 up right, 41 East Clyde St
Ground floor, 65 Sinclair St
Leaflets and posters to print.
In the Image gallery you will find plenty of illustrations and photos that you can use for your publicity material (unless otherwise stated).
We have produced a display which can be used for street stalls, meetings, etc.
You can also use photos from the photo gallery if you want.
Download the leaflet in French (same file in three different formats)
We have produced a new leaflet at the start of February 2007. You can download the leaflet below and print it yourselves or you can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0845 45 88 365 and we will send you some.
If you wish to print the leaflet please download the PDF file. (See here for help using PDF files.)
You can also download the leaflet in two editable formats: OpenDocument Text (which can be edited with the free OpenOffice) or as a MS Word Document. This is for people who wish to produce a customised leaflet for their group based on this leaflet. Please note that the leaflet was designed using OpenOffice so the OpenDocument Text format should be preferred if you are able to use both.
Women's Leaflet for women interesting in the first three days of Faslane 365 (see also the initial invitation to women to take part on these days).
Practical information about taking part in Faslane 365.
If a patient or their doctor calls for an Ambulance, the patients will be taken to the hospital best equipped to deal with their particular problem. That could mean the Vale of Leven Hospital, the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley or a hospital in Glasgow.
The Ambulance will take patients with medical emergencies such as: Heart Attacks, Strokes, Asthma, etc (see below) to the Vale of Leven Hospitals New Medical Assessment Unit.
The Ambulance will take the following patients to Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley, which has 24 hour surgical cover and is best placed to give quality care to these patients
All serious injuries including road traffic accidents
All surgical and urology emergencies,
Fractures requiring orthopaedic surgery,
Serious eye injuries and head injuries
The Ambulance will automatically take all seriously unwell or injured children to the Accident and Emergency Department at Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley. This is supported by a 24-hour Consultant-led Paediatric Service.
Children of any age with minor illness such as mild fevers, tummy upsets, coughs etc., should be seen by their own GP. Children of 5 and over with minor injuries can be seen in the Minor Injuries Unit (see details below). Children under 5 are more difficult to assess and should either be seen by a GP or taken directly to the Accident and Emergency Department at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley.
(30 miles - one hour depending on traffic)
The full Accident and Emergency Service will be provided at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley. This unit is staffed by senior doctors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will provide care for all serious injuries.
Travelling to Royal Alexandra Hospital By Car
Follow the A82 until the turn off for the Erskine Bridge.
Once across the bridge you should take the M8, following the signs for Paisley/Glasgow.
Leave the M8 at J29 (Irvine, Paisley, Glasgow Airport), at the roundabout take the 4th exit for A737 Irvine. (Ignore 3rd exit, signed for Paisley.) After 1 mile, leave A737 dual carriageway at first exit, signed for Linwood. At roundabout at bottom of slip road, take 1st exit on left into A761 Linwood Road, heading towards Paisley. There is signposting from this point to the RAH.
IF IN DOUBT, CALL 01389 751717 FOR ADVICE
(16 miles - 35 mins)
This unit will be staffed by doctors and nurses at all times of the day and night, 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. This unit will assess and treat all Medical Emergencies. These patients will access this service either through their own doctor, or by ambulance or by going directly themselves. The Medical Assessment Unit will treat patients with:
Heart attacks, Diabetes,
Asthma and other breathing problems,
Strokes, Unconsciousness, Epilepsy,
Allergic reactions and Overdose.
The doors will be open from 9am to 9pm every day and the Unit will be staffed by Nurse Practitioners, supported by Accident and Emergency Consultants.
In the Minor Injuries Unit, nurses will assess and treat adults and children over 5 with minor limb injury (including requesting x-rays when required for suspected broken bones), wounds requiring dressings or stitches, minor burns, foreign bodies or minor injury to eyes, ears and nose.
This service operates Monday - Friday from 6pm until 8.30am plus all weekend. Lomond Docs will expand to cover all practices in Dumbarton, Alexandria, Helensburgh, Kilcreggan, Garelochhead, Arrochar and Lochgoilhead.
Overnight minor injuries will be covered by local GPs with nursing support and should be contacted first by phone to arrange treatment (Tel 01389 751717). This service will be provided at the Vale of Leven Hospital alongside the Minor Injuries Service and Medical Assessment Unit.
Patients should always phone first to arrange for an emergency appointment out of hours (Tel: 01389 751717)
Helensburgh Medical Centre
12 East King Street
Tel. 01436 672277 & 01436 673366
4 Sinclair Street
Tel: 01436 673197
Although it is likely that police will clear away blockaders within a few hours you need to plan for the contingency that the blockade will be maintained for the two - day period and for how you intend to cover that contingency by employing a rota of blockaders or having people willing to stay in place for that entire time.
At each gate identify people who will avoid arrest and can offer welfare support to blockaders, covering such issues as:
Maps of Faslane and the surrounding area will be available here soon.
With so many groups coming to Faslane over such a long period we are all going to have to think very creatively about accommodation.
People who are not travelling too far could come straight to Faslane on their first day and could go home after they have finished on their second day - flexible transport arrangements will allow people to leave as they are released by the police (if arrests are made!)
Other groups might have a mixed approach to accommodation. For instance most of the group could travel overnight to arrive at Faslane but a small group who know that they can't manage this could arrive the day before and stay in a Bed and Breakfast in Helensburgh.
There are not many options for groups of 100 plus supporters to stay together near to Faslane due to the local sensitivities. However the Youth Hostel and camp sites are a possibility.
There are a number of Church halls in Glasgow which have been used for Big Blockades and we are contacting these but we will have to keep them for groups who have got really stuck or international groups.
On May 15th Scotland's churches launched a joint petition urging the UK Government not to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system. Leaders of The Church of Scotland, the Catholic Church and the Episcopal Church signed the petition. If anyone in your group has relatives or friends in the Glasgow area they could try and connect with a local church. From this you might find accommodation and other support as well as some more blockaders. This personal contact will work better than anything we can do.
We have compiled below some useful information that may be of help.
There are usually lots of regulations in SYHA Youth Hostels including a curfew. CENTRAL BOOKINGS: 0870-155-3255.
Deposit (20% of full fee) required 4 weeks from date of booking. Full payment 6 weeks before date of arrival
Dates & Prices: see website or phone the number above
Address: 8 Park Terrace, Glasgow, G3 6BY Hostel Tel: 0870 004 1119
Map Reference: O.S.64 (GR 575662).
Total beds 148 Open all year.
Balloch Central train station is 2 miles from the Youth Hostel. Also possible to cycle there safely.
Loch Lomond YHA (Balloch) O.S. map ref: O.S.56 (GR 368834).
Total 153 beds. Open until October 28th. After that you can book the whole hostel for £1500 a night until it reopens at the end of February. This hostel often gets fully booked especially in the summer.
318 Clyde Street, Glasgow G1 4NR.
It is open all year and has 364 beds. The more people you share with the cheaper it is. For a 14 bed dorm it is £14 per person per night. Reception is open 24hrs. You can book on-line or phone 0141 222 2828.
26 Hillhead St, Glasgow, G12 8PY.
Telephone: 0141 581 4481.
Fax: 0141 581 6258.
Or to find other cheap Glasgow hostels see www.hostelscentral.com/city-193.html
Luss Camping and Caravaning Club Site
Faslane 8 miles (non-members tents welcome), Luss, Loch Lomond, Alexandria, Scotland G83 8NT. Tel: 01436 860658. No calls after 8pm please. Closes Oct 30th to March 30th
Gartocharn, Loch Lomond, Argyll, G83 8NQ. Tel: 01389 830281.Open all year except February.
Lomond Woods Holiday Park
Tel: 01389 755000
Peaton Wood near to Coulport, where Trident Ploughshares have their camp has camping space. The landowner is only allowed to have camping there for 28 days a year so there are 14 days left in 2006. Please get in touch if you want to camp there and we will see if there are days left and liaise with the landowner.
Faslane Peace Camp is about a mile from the North (main) gate, a few hundred yards from the South (back) gate. The Peace Camp are setting aside a caravan and a bus for Faslane 365 to use. This will allow people to get a break a few at a time. It will be a warm, dry space where hot drinks can be made. There will also be access to a phone. They do not have the facilities to put up 100+ people night after night. The camp is always under threat of eviction and with local elections coming in May 2007 we have to be careful not to cause friction with their neighbours.
More information is available from:
Helensburgh Tourist information Office. 08707 200 615 Open Easter to October
Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park Gateway Centre 08707 200 631 Open all year
There are good public transport options from Glasgow. At the time of writing trains from Queen Street station (low level) for
Helensburgh leave every half-hour from early till late. There are service buses from Helensburgh's Colquhoun Square (destination
Garelochhead or Coulport) which stop at Faslane Peace Camp or Faslane north gate. There is also a train service from Queen Street (main level: destination Mallaig/Oban) which stops at Garelochhead (about a mile walk from Faslane north gate). Check the current situation with Traveline Scotland (http://www.travelinescotland.com/). There are also ferries from Cowal and Inverclyde to Helensburgh and Kilcreggan.
It is more likely, however that groups will organise their own transport, especially if they want to use a minibus or a coach as a shelter, break or refreshment point. Parking then becomes an issue. The main parking points will be indicated on the map but these may change or be affected by police or council decisions in response to blockading. Make sure you check the current situation in contact with the blockading group who will arrive the day before you, or by contacting the F365 Information (a number will be advertised nearer the time or email email@example.com). You will also need to check the latest developments in regard to what the police and council will allow in terms of passengers alighting on the A814 which passes the base.
Download the Transport Briefing, covering some of the issues around booking coaches, minbuses, etc.
The Legal Working Group's role is to provide advice and support to the Legal Support Teams within each Blockading Group. We also provide general legal briefings.
Although Faslane 365 itself is now over, the Legal Working Group will still be available to help support people through the courts. We can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0845 45 88 369.
Currently we have available:
The base was well and truly disrupted. By the end of the day 193 people had been arrested. Apart from one woman who was taken to Bournemouth on a warrant everyone else was released during the evening and was told that a report would be sent to the Procurator Fiscal (the prosecutor in Scotland). We have just heard from a couple of people who have now been sent citations to appear at Helensburgh District Court for a Breach of the Peace. Others have had a letter to say that they are not being prosecuted. Please let us know if you hear anything even if your charges are being dropped as it helps us to get a picture of how the courts are responding to us.
You might get:
saying that they COULD prosecute but in this instance they won't but you are NOT TO DO IT AGAIN! Most people during Faslane 365 got this, but we don't know if they'll bother for the Big Blockade. The only legally significant bit of this letter is the fact that they aren't prosecuting you (i.e. charges are dropped). Sometimes people write back and say that as they have done nothing wrong the PF shouldn't be keeping records about them anyway.
You could just pay this...although most people don't. If you write back to say you won't pay or you just ignore it you will probably get called to court. Paying it means that you don't get a criminal record which you would get if you are found guilty by a court. See more about this at http://www.faslane365.org/en/fixed_penalty_fines
usually in Helensburgh District Court (although sometimes Dumbarton Sheriff Court). You can plead guilty or not guilty by letter. Usually people plead not guilty but it's your choice. If you plead not guilty you will have to come in person for the trial. There is a detailed briefing on your options at this point, and the process from here on, on http://www.faslane365.org/en/resources_for_people_being_prosecuted (or contact the Legal Working Group).
Often you will hear no more from the authorities and after about six months it is unlikely that you will.
If you are a member of an affinity group then let them know if you are being prosecuted. They could help by coming to support you in court, raising funds to cover your travel costs and fines, getting local press coverage etc.
Faslane 365 has now finished and the Steering Group has had its last meeting. However the Faslane 365 Legal Working Group will continue to give support to people coming to court. If you need legal advise, help with finding accommodation or just want to talk through what you are going to say in court then contact us:
or Tel: 0845 45 88 369
Jane and Adam
Faslane 365 Legal Working Group
The following briefings are also included in the Resource Pack. Any updates to the briefings since the printing of the Resource Pack are given on the Updates page.
In writing this briefing we are building on many years of experience of blockading Faslane. Many hundreds of people have been arrested and many more have taken part without being arrested and for most it has been a positive, even liberating, experience.
While the charges and police behaviour over the years have been relatively predictable, this project is, we hope, an escalation of the effectiveness of these blockades. Faslane 365 grew out of a realisation that the state could cope with - and work around - one-day blockades, however large and effective, and a desire to be un-ignorable. Thus, the state may also change tactic in response, and may use laws or powers that they have not used at Faslane before. We believe that, together, we are strong enough to overcome these issues if they do arise. The Legal Support Working Group will provide information and advice and help facilitate a collective response should anything like this arise.
While direct legal support is, in keeping with the decentralised nature of the project, the responsibility of each Blockading Group, there will also be a Legal Support Working Group who will provide help and advice. We will also help co-ordinate among the people doing legal support from the different blockading groups and provide information as to how the courts are responding to different issues (as much as we can!). If any new legal tactics are tried, we'll keep you informed and provide advice and a communication channel so that we can all deal with it together. The people within your blockading group providing legal support won't need any legal knowledge - it's about making sure they know where you are when arrested, can tell friends/family/work if you want them to, can tell a solicitor if you want one, make sure someone picks you up when you're released, that people come to court with you (if you even get taken to court). We'll provide advice and training as required.
Remember when reading this that some of what we cover here is worst-case scenarios. It is quite possible that no-one will face anything more serious than Breach of the Peace or Obstructing an Officer in the Course of Their Duty.
If you go onto the road at the entrance to the base it is likely that at some stage the police will tell you to move. If you refuse then you may be arrested. Ironically, given the reason why we're doing it, the usual charge is Breach of the Peace! Sometimes the police issue a warning to a whole group of people before moving in to arrest individuals. Our experience from previous blockades at Faslane is that if you stay on the pavement or move there when told to it is unlikely that you will be arrested. This may change if the police or the base get interdicts or similar (see below). The Legal Support Working Group will help keep your legal support team up to date on this.
Breach of the Peace is a common-law offence (which means it's defined by previous court judgments rather than by Act of Parliament). While the offence goes back centuries the leading judgments (High Court rulings which define what BoP means) are fairly recent and tend to involve anti-nuclear protesters who blockaded Faslane! In theory, BoP requires conduct severe enough to cause alarm to ordinary people and threaten serious disturbance to the community. It should be conduct that is genuinely alarming and disturbing, in its context, to any reasonable person ... it is clear that something substantially greater than mere irritation is involved. In practice the courts do usually reckon that this includes peacefully sitting in the road at Faslane and you are likely to be convicted.
However, they may well not prosecute everyone - the courts have a finite capacity. Some people may be offered Fixed Penalty Notices, which are a bit like a speeding fine in that if you pay (they're usually £50) you don't get a criminal record. Some will hear nothing at all. Some will be prosecuted. This can be either in the District Court or in the Sheriff Court (the Procurator Fiscal gets to choose) and usually results in a fine of £50-£100 if you plead guilty or £100-£200 if you plead not guilty. One of the avenues they might take to try and discourage us is to increase the levels of these fines. This could well be challenged, depending on how it is done (we have had fines reduced on appeal before).
There are other offences they could charge us with for blockading - under the Roads (Scotland) Act for example - but they're of a similar level and certainly no harder to defend.
If you are locked-on, fail to move when told to, or after arrest, then they may add one of these charges. This may (especially the resisting arrest) be dropped before the case gets to court but it may be prosecuted. Like BoP, these charges cover a huge range of situations and so the theoretical maximum is high but, given the non-violent and accountable nature of these actions, this would be very much towards the trivial end of the spectrum and would usually result in a small fine.
It is always a possibility that they may decide to act pre-emptively and arrest people they see as organisers on a conspiracy charge. This is potentially a more serious charge but political conspiracy charges are rare for a reason - they usually backfire on the government! The people most at risk of this are the Steering Group. We will make sure that all the Blockading Groups have each others contact details just in case.
Faslane is a Designated Area under section 129 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (as ammended by the Terrorism Act 2006). This means that it's an offence to be inside the fenceline without lawful authority (and potentially a serious one - the maximum penalty is a year in prison). However, this only applies if you go inside the fenceline. As long as you stay outside the fence, even if you are on MoD land and/or blockading the gates, then you cannot be charged with this. For a more information on this power see the Trident Ploughshares briefing on this new power.
It is also possible that they may decide to use section 14 of the Public Order Act (which allows them to put conditions on assemblies in certain situations). Depending on how it's done there are a number of ways to challenge this. The likely sentence, if convicted, would again be a smallish fine. It could make life more difficult for supporters who wish to be present but not to risk arrest - but if they do impose an s14 they should provide a space in which we are allowed to be. If there were a total ban on assembly imposed then supporters would become potentially arrestable. We will be able to help advise what is likely to be do-able without risking arrest once the terms of the exact order are known. Remember also that the rights to Freedom of Assembly and Freedom of Expression are enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and into Scots law via the Scotland Act and Human Rights Act. We may well be able to challenge these orders if they become too restrictive.
It is also possible that either the MoD, the local authority or the police may try and obtain ASBOs or even interdicts. This would be a sign that we were getting somewhere. ASBOs probably wouldn't make a huge difference although it may inconvenience supporters - many of the comments above on s14, etc. apply here as well. An interdict would be a sign of desperation on their part but one, which could require a collective response from all the Blockading Groups but which could be overcome or worked around.
Finally, if there is any "disorder", whether it came from us or not, there is the possibility that they would take the opportunity to try and use more serious public order charges such as Mobbing. This is, essentially, a collective Breach of the Peace but is considered a more serious charge and could result in a jury trial. That said, it is often easier, in this sort of case, to convince a jury of the rightness of your actions than it is a judge.
Make sure you have the phone number of your legal support team and of a solicitor. This may be provided in the form of a Bust Card. It is a good idea to write the numbers on your hand/arm as well.
What do I do when I get released?
If the police can confirm your details and they are satisfied that the action is over you should be given all your property back and released. This can take a long time if there are a lot of people in custody so be prepared for a long wait. Hopefully, there will be someone waiting to meet you outside the police station who will arrange a lift. Please inform your Legal Support team that you are out.
What Happens if I am Held for Court?
If you are charged with a serious offence or your details don't check out or you are already on bail or there is a warrant for your arrest or they've got a new policy to try and put us off you may be held and taken to court the next morning. You can ask a solicitor to represent you or just to give you advice. You will probably be released on standard bail conditions - this means that if you are arrested again whilst on bail they can add an extra charge. Bail does not usually require the payment of money sureties in Scotland. They may want to add extra conditions - such as not to go within a certain distance of Faslane - but should give you the opportunity to argue against them if you want to. Unless you have a history of breaking bail you should get bail for these sorts of charges.
If I am Released from the Police Station will I Hear Any More About It?
The police sometimes release people on an undertaking to come back to court on a specified day within the next few days or weeks. If you are released without signing an undertaking then you may receive a citation (to come to court) or a fixed penalty fine in the post up to a year later.
The police will take you to a nearby police van. You can choose to walk with them or you can refuse to co-operate and be carried, but this may mean you are given an additional charge of resisting arrest (this is usually dropped if you go to court). At the van the police will ask your name, address and date of birth, they might take a Polaroid photo and you will be charged. You have the right to make a reply, which will be written down. They may ask other questions but you don't have to answer them.
If you are arrested by the MOD police you will be taken into the base and then either released from there or transferred to a civilian police station. If you are arrested by Strathclyde Police you will be taken to a police station, probably in Glasgow. Often men and women are sent to different places.
You will be searched and your possessions taken away. Check your pockets before the action to make sure you do not have anything in them you do not want the police to see and that you do not have your penknife with you. They will also take things like belts so make sure your trousers stay up without them!
If the police ask you to strip for a search (which is rare), ask them why and explain that complaints about previous strip searches have been upheld. If they insist on a strip search it is up to you whether you co-operate, but get the names of the police officers and make a complaint as soon as you are released and let Legal Support know.
The police will ask your details again and whether you want someone told that you are in custody and a solicitor informed as well. Ask them to contact your legal support team. You only really need to see a solicitor if you are being held for court but they can help sort out other problems as well. You have the right to see a lawyer after being arrested. You should have got the name/number of a lawyer from your legal support team before the action (the Legal Working Group can help them find one) - probably on a bust card together with their number.
The police will ask your name, address and date of birth. They will also ask you lots of other questions but you DO NOT have to give them any further information. Tell them if you are vegan or vegetarian or need medication.
If you are ill or injured you have the right to see a doctor and insist on seeing one at the earliest opportunity.
You will then be put in a cell, possibly by yourself or possibly with two or more others. The cell will usually have a gym-type mattress and you should be able to get blankets if you need them (but you might have to ask). Likewise, you should be able to get water when you need it. There is a call button in each cell but they can take a long time to answer so if they come by for any reason take the opportunity to ask then if you need anything. You should get three meals a day (although they may claim you've 'just missed' one so it can only be two, depending on what time you arrive at. They will come by and check up on you periodically and will take you out for fingerprints, to charge you, etc.
The police can photograph and fingerprint you if they wish but records will be destroyed if you are not prosecuted, or if you are eventually acquitted. Strathclyde Police use a new electronic fingerprint machine that is linked to the national computer. You will also have swabs taken from the inside of your cheeks for DNA tests. The police can do this using 'reasonable' force.
If the police can verify your name and address you probably will be released. They check this by sending the local police to the address you have given and asking if you live there or by checking on the electoral roll. However, they may decide that they want to put everyone on bail, so as to be able to impose a condition not to go within a certain distance of Faslane. Alternatively, you may be asked to sign an Undertaking to come back to court on a specified day. This means that if you fail to turn up on that day, they can add an extra charge. They cannot impose any other conditions without taking you to court. You do not have to sign the undertaking, but it may increase the chance that they hold you for court if you don't.
If they do decide to hold you for court, you will be held overnight in a cell at a police station. They have to take you to court the next working day so if you were arrested on a Friday you could be held until Monday. Try and get some sleep - they will come round periodically (every hour or two) to check on you (by opening the little hatch in the door): if you can, then just grunt that you're OK but try not to wake up fully. You will then be woken up very early, given some breakfast and the opportunity to wash at a sink in the corridor and then put into a van to be taken to court. At the court you will be put into a large holding cell before being brought up to the court itself. Assuming you are released on bail, you should be released from the court without having to go back to the police station
Possibly. If you've been arrested then you have a right to talk to a solicitor first. Think in advance about what you want to do if you are interviewed and talk it over in your group. You are NOT obliged to answer any questions. If you decide not to answer any questions, then it's best to say No Comment or something similar to every question, even the stuff you've already told them like name and address. Alternatively, you might wish to prepare a statement in advance, saying why you took part, then simply repeat that or say I've nothing further to add to my statement. If you do decide to answer their questions then it's best to
You will be taken out of the cell, you may be asked to sign an undertaking, then you will be given your property back. You will be asked to sign to say you've got it all back - check it first! - and then released. Hopefully, someone from your group will meet you. Ring your legal support team and let them know you're out.
If you live abroad it is more difficult for the police to check your identity. They may want to see proof of ID such as a passport. It may also increase the likelihood of you being held for court. For more information see the Briefing for Internationals
A common concern of people getting involved in this type of action is the effect that getting arrested will have on their job. In some circumstances there can be issues here, although many people find it has little or no effect at all.
If you have a job and are unsure of the level of support that your colleagues or bosses may give you then it might be a good idea to look at your job contract before you take action to see if there are any clauses stating that a conviction could lead to your dismissal. Bear in mind however, that these clauses usually relate to offences of dishonesty such as theft or fraud, or to offences committed whilst at work, and may well not be applicable to arrests of this sort for nonviolent actions taken in your spare time.
If your bosses are likely to be supportive then talk to them in general terms before you take action so that they are less surprised after it has happened, particularly as you may need to take time off work later to travel to court cases etc. If they are very sympathetic then you might want to ask them to take part with you or to encourage other members of your work team to join in Faslane 365!
While there will be a general aim to get publicity for Faslane 365, it is perfectly okay for participants who don't want to be interviewed or photographed to stay out of the limelight as much as possible. In particular, you might want to consider whether local publicity in which you are shown or named might upset your relationship with your employer. If so, ensure that your group knows that you do not want your name to be given out to the press and that you will not give press interviews. There are some professions, for example solicitors, where an arrest might be treated as 'bringing the profession into disrepute' which in extreme cases might mean that you get struck off and can no longer practice. However, for most people, this kind of penalty would be extremely unlikely, especially if you are with others of the same profession and are making a considered protest on international law and moral grounds. If you do have worries about this then it might be worth checking with your professional body, particularly if they have a confidential phone line.
The biggest impact of having a conviction might be when you are looking for new employment. If the job you are applying for involves working with children or vulnerable people then you will by law be required to have a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check when you apply. The CRB check discloses all convictions (including spent convictions, see later). You can't be employed where these convictions relate to children or vulnerable adults. Otherwise it is at the discretion of the employer whether to hire you, and in such a case it is generally better to explain the arrest yourself. Being involved in Faslane 365 should not affect you working with children and vulnerable adults. However, you should explain to your prospective employer before they have the CRB check done, so that they know the nature and context of your convictions, as if you leave it for them to find out, you may not get the chance to explain later.
For other kinds of work the job application form may have a section asking about previous convictions (see below for info about what you must disclose). If you don't answer honestly and they find out you do have convictions then this would be grounds for your dismissal. If you do tell them make sure you explain what the convictions are for - not simply that it was a conviction for criminal damage, for example, but explaining why you did it, the commitment to nonviolence and prevention of crimes under international law. While many will respond positively to your explanation and decide that your actions show the kind of initiative and responsibility they would welcome in the job, there is of course the risk that they may then decide that you look like trouble!
Bear in mind that the majority of people taking part in Faslane 365 will probably not be brought to court and even if they are, we are assuming that the most likely charges will be minor, such as 'Breach of the Peace' or 'Obstruction' (see legal briefing). Such charges usually result in fines of between £50-£200. Nevertheless, it is as well to be aware of The Spent Convictions and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act of 1974. This Act specifies that after a certain period of time (depending upon the length of the sentence) any conviction becomes 'spent' and there is no need to disclose the conviction to future employers etc. For example, a fine becomes spent after 5 years regardless of the amount of the fine. There is however a very large category of people for whom convictions can never be spent, including people working in the following professions: doctors; dentists; nurses and midwives; lawyers; opticians; teachers; police officers; and people working with children and vulnerable people. This is why it is important to make sure that any convictions that you do get are recognised by yourselves and others as being matters of conscience proving your ethical responsibility and care for society. Over the years many professional people have taken part in anti-nuclear direct actions and very few if any have suffered in their professions as a result.
If you are a student check with your college/university Student Union whether there are any regulations which getting a conviction might breach. Ask other students at your campus who have convictions what the impact has been, if any. If you think your tutor is likely to be sympathetic, consider telling them about your intended action/conviction, as you may need to miss some course work to go on the action or go to court.
Depending on the charges, there are potential difficulties getting visas for some countries, including Australia, New Zealand, or the USA. Where countries have questions on the visa application form about convictions, some only want to know about certain kinds of serious crime or whether time in prison has exceeded a period of, e.g. in the case of the USA, 5 years. The requirement to disclose convictions includes spent convictions unless the country has an Act equivalent to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. In most cases it will be possible to answer these questions totally truthfully, since the likely conviction or penalty for a Faslane 365 blockade would be less than the question requires. In other situations it is up to you to decide whether you think that these acts of civil resistance are covered by these questions. We are not aware of many activists having been refused entry to countries on the grounds of their previous convictions but then we do not know how many people filling out their visa forms answer this question fully.
It might also be useful for you to be aware that some insurance firms are now refusing to give insurance cover, be it household, business, car or other types of insurance if you have convictions. However, there are a number of good insurance firms who do cover people when the nature of the convictions is properly explained, and we have even found that the premiums are cheaper. Maybe we should just all change over to these firms and reward them for their understanding!
This briefing contains additional information for non-UK nationals and residents who might be risking arrest as part of a Faslane 365 blockading group. You should also read the general legal briefing (in the Resource Pack and on www.faslane365.org/legal) - this briefing only covers what is different or extra for internationals.
In our experience, the authorities in Scotland treat anyone resident outside the UK as an international, even if they are British citizens. Our experience in the past has been that foreign nationals legally resident in the UK would normally be treated the same as any other UK resident and that deportation is not an issue. However, there has been a fuss recently in the media about "foreign criminals" and the government has said they will be looking at increased use of deportation should foreign nationals be convicted of crimes in the UK. We do not believe that this would apply at this minor a level of offence but we don't know for certain as it has not yet been implemented. Check www.faslane365.org/legal for updates.
In the past, Internationals have often been treated exactly the same as UK residents. On occasion however, there have been differences. One is that sometimes Internationals are more likely to be held for court and released on bail rather than just released from the police office. On occasion they have asked all internationals to sign undertakings, and held those that refused for court the next day.
There is no requirement to carry ID in the UK, even for internationals (although you will need a passport to get in, even from other EU countries). If you don't want to carry your passport on the action then we recommend you make sure someone who is not planning to risk arrest has your passport and that your legal support team know who that is. While it has not been necessary recently, there have been occasions in the past when the police have claimed that they are unable to verify foreign addresses and require proof of ID before releasing internationals.
You have a right to an interpreter, either in the Police Office or in Court. This applies even if your English is good enough for everyday use - there is a specific language to legal proceedings and often some strong accents amongst police officers so don't be afraid to ask for an interpreter at any stage - you have the right the to one, so keep asking if necessary. However, it's a good idea to ask as early as possible so that proceedings aren't delayed while they find one.
You have the right to have your Embassy or Consulate informed that you have been arrested. For some countries, the police will inform them anyway, even if you don't ask while for others they only inform them if you request it. If you need an interpreter, that may be arranged through the Embassy, so they may find out then.
Not for simple blockading - it's not serious enough to make international arrests an option. However, you will end up with a warrant out for you in the UK and so you may be picked up at the port coming back into the UK in the future. If you missed a court hearing then the warrant may eventually be dropped. If you have been convicted and not paid the fine then the warrant may last much longer.
Often people with addresses outside the UK will just be released like everyone else. There was a previous blockade where they wanted all Internationals to sign Undertakings, and many chose to give a UK address on arrest so as to avoid this. If it comes to holding people for court and putting them on bail then the Helensburgh court has accepted foreign addresses but the courts sometimes refuse to bail people to a non-UK address.
If you live abroad, it would be a good idea to have a UK address you can use if you need to. It's your decision whether to give it on arrest or to make the point that you've come from abroad by giving your foreign address and hold the UK address in reserve in case you need it for bail.
If you give an address on arrest then they will try to verify it. One way they sometimes do this, with UK addresses, is to ask the local police to go round and ask if you live there, or to telephone the address if you give them a phone number. If you give a UK address, therefore, you need to check with the people who live there to make sure it's OK and that everyone who lives there knows that you live there. Any citations, etc. will get sent to that address so you need to make sure you have a system for getting them sent on to you, if you move.
This briefing covers some of the specific legal issues for drivers of vehicles during Faslane 365.
Be aware that immediately before an action there can be a lot of emotions and adrenaline sloshing around, even for support people. Think in advance about how you might cope with this: relaxation/concentration techniques, etc. Make sure to get yourself emotionally settled before setting off and be aware of, and plan for, the need to get adequate rest.
As the driver of a vehicle on a public road:
You are responsible for making sure everyone in the vehicle wears seatbelts (where they are fitted).
It is an offence to use a mobile phone while driving (even if stopped at traffic lights, etc.) unless you have a completely hands-free setup).
You are required to give the police your name, address and date of birth if asked (this only applies to the driver, passengers do not have to provide any information.
If you don't have these with you2, you may nominate a police station (anywhere in the UK) to take them to. You will be given a form which you must take, with all the documents, to the nominated police station within seven days.
Several of the roads around Faslane are Clearways, which means you're not supposed to stop. If you're unsure and you stop very briefly then you'll probably just be told to move along. However, if you leave a car parked on the verge on a clearway it might be clamped or towed.
There is no general power to search a vehicle although there are a range of powers which allow them to do so in certain circumstances. If the police want to search the vehicle ask them what power they are acting under and make a note of it. Be clear about whether you are giving them permission or are just complying with a (claimed) requirement and let your legal support team know afterwards.
The registered owner of a vehicle is required to tell the police who was driving it at a certain time. Otherwise they may be liable themselves. If they tell the police who was driving then the driver rather than the owner would usually be liable.
Usually at Faslane, drivers of vehicles transporting people to and from Faslane are not hassled as long as they obey usual road traffic stuff and don't stop where they shouldn't. Note that the police have powers to direct road traffic and failing to comply with such a direction can be an offence. Make sure the group thinks in advance about what they will do if the police prevent you from stopping where you want to. Also make clear in advance what risks you as the driver are prepared to run and what you're not ― and that you expect the group to respect that even in the heat of the moment.
If you stop on the roundabout and people jump out and lock-on then they may be more likely to consider you part of the action and arrest you. If you are arrested then the vehicle will be towed and you will have to pay a release fee (which can be over £150) to get it back.
If they do arrest you then, depending on the circumstances, it could be for stopping where you shouldn't or some other road traffic offence or it could be for aiding and abetting the action itself.
If you use a vehicle as part of an action, for example turning an old vehicle into a lock-on, then you are likely to have the vehicle impounded and probably forfeited. Make sure the vehicle is road standard and has MOT and that you are insured to drive it otherwise the driver will also be charged with driving without insurance/MOT/etc.
Think carefully about how you will get into place. Anything done while driving the vehicle could lead to road traffic charges ― even Dangerous Driving or similar if it involves going anywhere the wrong way or too close to police on the gate. The driver should prepare themselves mentally very carefully and everyone should be aware of the amount of adrenaline around immediately before the action and the need to keep the driver calm and focussed.
Once in place you will be told to move very quickly by the police. Usually, failing to comply with such a direction from the police would be an offence (for the driver). If it is not possible to do so (because the vehicle has been disabled in some way) or not safe to do so (e.g. because there are people locked onto the vehicle from outside) then that should be a defence to such a charge. You would still be charged either with Breach of the Peace or under the Roads (Scotland) Act with blocking the road (likely fines are similar for both).
We do not have much experience of people using vehicles as lock-ons, so we are less certain about the possible charges.
For a hire vehicle the hire company should have provided an insurance certificate ― it may be on the invoice.[Back]
The police are often able to check insurance and MOT on a computer database via their radio, so if you have your driving licence with you and the rest checks out they may not bother making you produce the other documents.[Back]
While we welcome people of all ages to take part in Faslane 3651, there are some factors which apply particularly to young people which you should consider, and which this briefing aims to cover. You should also read the general Legal Briefing as this only covers areas which are different for young people.
Please check with the Blockading Group (BG) you are planning to come with if they have any special provisions, or concerns, about involving young people.
Anyone aged 16 or over is treated as an adult in Scots Law. Anyone aged under 16 is treated as a Juvenile. Note that if you look under 16 you might be treated as a Juvenile until they can confirm your age.
There are different rules governing how juveniles are treated if they are arrested. In particular:
Juveniles are not prosecuted through the normal court system for minor offences like these. If a juvenile is charged then a report is sent to the Reporter to the Childrens Panel. He then decides whether to report the matter to the Childrens Panel. A Childrens Panel hearing is like a court hearing in some ways but very different in style and approach. The overriding concern of a Childrens Panel should be the interests of the child.
It is therefore unlikely that peaceful, non-violent, accountable and principled actions of this sort would be reported to the Childrens Panel unless you keep doing it several times in quick succession. We have no knowledge of Juveniles being prosecuted for actions at Faslane.
Remember that if you are aged 16 or over you will be treated as an adult and can be prosecuted though the normal court system.
As described in the Legal Briefing for Young People, we recommend that anyone under 16 who is coming to any of the Faslane 365 actions with someone other than their parents bring with them a letter authorising an adult who is coming to pick them up from the police station if they are arrested.
It would be a good idea to bring this letter just in case, even if the young person has no intention of risking arrest.
To whom it may concern
I give my consent to my child, ................................... attending a protest at Faslane on ...................................
They will be in the care of ...............................................
In the event of my child being arrested I wish the above named person to be treated as the person who has actual custody of my child. In particular I wish my child to be released to that person.
If you need to contact me by phone to confirm this:
We have produced a flowchart which describes the arrest procedure.
We have produced a flowchart which describes the possible options and procedures following release through to the end of the process.
There is no general right for the police to search you. There are exceptions to this where they have grounds for suspecting you personally of certain offences, for example under the Misuse of Drugs legislation, if they have reasonable grounds to suspect you of possession of illegal drugs. The police may search you upon detention or arrest, provided the conditions for detention or arrest are satisfied.
The police may try to get people to co-operate where they have no legal power to compel them to do so. The general advice, if the police seek to search you, is to always demand to know what power they are acting under and whether they have legal authority to compel you to submit to a search, or are asking you to agree to one voluntarily. In the latter case, it's your decision whether to agree or not. You should make a note, at the time, of the numbers of the officers involved and of what power they claim to use. In Scotland, you do not usually get a Stop and Account form, although it doesn't hurt to ask for one.
There are two powers which, if in force, allow the police to search anyone within a specified area without having any particular suspicion of you personally. There is no history of these powers being used at Faslane, and no justification for doing so, and their use could be challenged. These are:
Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 allows a senior police officer to impose an order on an area if he believes that incidents involving serious violence may take place or that persons are carrying dangerous instruments or offensive weapons. If a s60 order is in force then a uniformed police officer may stop and search any person or vehicle (without requiring any suspicion of them) within the specified area for weapons. There is also a power to make people remove masks.
They are only allowed to search for weapons (not read papers, etc. although they may try). You do not have to give your name and address or any other information as part of the section 60. You have a right to a written record of the search although the Scottish police aren't used to giving them out and may refuse at the time.
Since we are committed to nonviolence and not to carry weapons it seems difficult to imagine how a s60 order could be justified and any attempt to impose one could be challenged.
Section 44 of The Terrorism Act 2000 allows a senior police officer, with the consent of the Secretary of State, to impose an order on an area if he considers it expedient for the prevention of acts of terrorism. If a s44 order is in force then a uniformed police officer may stop and search any person or vehicle (without requiring any suspicion of them) within the specified area for articles of a kind which could be used in connection with terrorism.
You do not have to give your name and address or any other information as part of the section 44. You have a right to a written record of the search although the Scottish police aren't used to giving them out and may refuse at the time.
The actual provision of Legal Support is down to each Blockading Group, but the Faslane 365 Legal Working Group will support and help you to do this. You don't need any legal knowledge to do this. Below is a detailed pack for Legal Support Teams which explains what is involved and how we have done it for previous actions
Does your Blockading Group have a Legal Support Team yet? If so, are they in contact with the Legal Working Group?
This pack gives the Legal Support Team for your Blockading Group the basic information and resources they need to set up a legal support framework for your days at Faslane and the follow up. It is just one model of how to do it although it is based on many years of experience both at Faslane and elsewhere. This is not the only way to do it so please mould it to suit your group's plan.
This has been produced by the Faslane 365 Legal Support Working Group. The actual provision of Legal Support to each Blockading Group is that groups responsibility, and we recommend each group to establish within itself a small Legal Support Team to do this. The Legal Support Working Group will provide help and advice, produce briefings such as this and briefings on the laws likely to be used and will be contactable in an emergency for advice.
Feedback is welcome and these briefings may be updated in the light of comments received and of experience. Check www.faslane365.org/legal for updates.
When people are taking action which confronts the state to the point where they risk being arrested it is important that they have good support. An important support role is Legal Support. You do not need any special legal training to do Legal Support: just common sense, patience and persistence so that within your Legal Support Team you know everyone's legal situation throughout the action. The F365 Legal Support Working Group will be able to offer advice in advance of your action and we will try to be available on the end of a phone on a daily basis. However, please try to be as self-sufficient as possible by working through this briefing and planning well.
Legal Support breaks down into a number of tasks which basically cover:
* distributing Legal Briefings, and any updates to them, to everyone in the Blockading Group,
* making sure everyone has filled in a Legal Support Registration Form and has a Bust Card (and that the forms get to the 'Trackers'),
* seeing who is being arrested and passing a list on to the 'Trackers',
* finding out where they are being held,
* checking that they are getting released and are picked up from the police station and
* following up any consequences.
This doesn't have to all be done by the same people. Some of this has to be done at the scene of the action, some can be done from somewhere else entirely and most of the follow up is done when the group is home and rested.
Everyone taking part in the action, whether blockading or supporting, needs to read the basic Legal Briefing (check www.faslane365.org/legal for updates). However there are a number of further briefings, covering specific situations or groups, which the Legal Support Team can absorb. We are also producing a further set of information which we are calling the 'Break Glass' briefing which contains things which most groups won't need most of the time but which you can have available for all sorts of unusual situations e.g. contacting foreign embassies.
The different tasks are set out on the following sheets. You might have different people doing these or indeed a rota of people doing some. Some people might take on a number of tasks. The Legal Support Team needs to sort out who is doing what and where it is going to be done and fit that in with other group planning like transport and accommodation.
The basic model is that:
* Everyone coming to the action has a Bust card with phone numbers for Legal Support and for a solicitor1 and they have all filled in a Legal Support registration form.
* A number of people are present at each gate acting as Legal Observers. They record arrests but also other information such as names of witnesses and how the police are behaving.
* They report arrests to the Trackers who have the legal registration forms and are able to keep track of people through the police system. People who have been arrested ask the police to inform the Legal Support Team where they are being held and the police might ask the Team to confirm people's addresses.
* The Trackers find out when the police are going to release people and co-ordinate lifts to pick them up.
* Trackers confirm that people are released and monitor who is still in custody.
* If people are held overnight to appear in court the Trackers check in with the solicitor and arrange Court Support.
After the action there are a number of things we would like your group to feed back to the Faslane 365 Legal Support Working Group. You then need to prepare to follow up with support for people who get prosecuted.
1. See Legal Support Contact List or just tell people to use the Duty Solicitor
Your role basically involves making sure everyone at the action has a Bust Card, recording details of those arrested (and passing this on to the Trackers) and generally noting any information which might be useful in court.
You will need enough people so that you can have a least two people acting as Legal Observers at each gate you are covering at all times. You can help out with other support roles but if the police move in to make arrests then you have to be there on the spot prioritising legal observing.
We have no idea how the police are going to react to Faslane 365. They may cordon off the blockade and warn anyone not wanting to be arrested to leave the area. Strathclyde Police are familiar with the role of Legal Observers and they might allow a number of you to stay inside any cordon and watch - they might not. To try and maintain some recognition of the status of Legal Observers we suggest that you wear some kind of tabard or armband which has "Legal Observer" on it.
Legal Observers are not Police Liaison. Your job is to record what happens, not represent the group in discussions. If, however, you need to liaise on your own behalf (e.g. about staying near enough to see arrests if there is a police cordon) then talk to the senior officer present.
While it will be possible to swap roles, e.g. to be a Legal Observer one day and a blockader the next day, we ask that you are clear what role you have at any time. If you stop Legal Observing then make sure the person who has taken over is fully briefed. Please don't just throw your tabard at someone and jump into a lock-on! The police will definitely stop Legal Observers being near to arrests if they think they are going to join in the action.
The most crucial thing is getting the names of people being arrested. Make the most of opportunities to get to know the names of everyone in your group. If you know people by nicknames check that you know the name that they will be giving to the police.
If arrests start try to position yourself where you can get a good view of what is going on.
If you can, also note down:
* Is a warning given? Who by? At what time?
* Are people being cut out of lock-ons? Who by? How long does it take? Are the police being careful?
* Is there traffic actually present which is being stopped? Is it just base traffic or is there local traffic also held up? Can through traffic get past?
Much of this is not needed but occasionally people want to challenge the police version of events in court or make a complaint about police behaviour and your record might be important. Note the times of anything significant.
From the beginning of the action it is useful to have a general record of the atmosphere, of how the police respond, how many are there, when specialist cutting teams arrive, at what stage police cordons are established etc. If nothing else this would be very useful for groups who come to blockade after you.
If the police cordon off the people who are blockading then try to stand as near as you can without risking arrest yourself. Shout out to the people inside the cordon that you are there and tell them how much you can see. They need to know that they need to keep you informed if you can't see what is going on.
If people are being cut out of lock-ons the MOD police cutting team usually establish a 'sterile area' around where they are working. This might just be a cordon of police officers but they often erect temporary fencing with plastic sheeting attached. This takes a great deal of time and faffing about so makes the blockade last longer. Sometimes Legal Observers can see underneath or around the fencing, or over it if you are tall, but you might need a running commentary from inside.
If the police keep people a long way back from the blockaders then see if you can stand near to the vans where people will be taken. How close you can get depends on the officers in charge but you should at least be able to see who is being taken away.
It is also an opportunity to ask which police station people are being taken to. Men and women are usually put in different vans and taken to different stations (unless there are only a few arrests). The likely ones to listen out for are: Dumbarton, Clydebank, Maryhill, Stewart St, Baird St, Greenock and Govan (now known as Helen St).
It is up to you at what point you phone in the names of those arrested to the Trackers. They don't need them instantly so if your mobile signal is not good it is better to stay and keep an eye on the arrests. When you get a chance tell the Trackers the names of people arrested and who has been put into the same van. Alert them to anyone who has injuries.
Legal Observers need to stay at the gates until everyone leaves. Let the trackers know when your group has stopped blockading. Keep your notes safe as details may become important later.
* Spare Bust cards.
* Spare Legal Registration Forms.
* Mobile phone with fully charged battery and credit (and if possible spare battery).
* Contact list of other support people.
* Notebook or clipboard and spare pens and pencils1.
(Tip: greaseproof paper and a permanent marker survives even Scottish rain!)
* Plastic bag or wallet to keep notes dry.
* Tabard or armband.
* Plenty to eat and drink and appropriate clothing of course.....
1. While you can use a 'Dictaphone' type device, you should always have a notebook and pencil in case. Also, it's easier to do the list of names in a notebook so you can read them off or give the sheet to whoever is ringing them in to the trackers.
Once people are taken into custody, Legal Support keeps track of where they are until they are released.
There are a number of ways to do this but basically you need to
* record the names of people arrested,
* work out where they are being held and
* know when they are released.
You can do this on a computer using a spreadsheet or database or on big sheets of paper.
You will need to have the Registration Forms filled in by all the people at the action and you can move them around in piles to help you see what is going on.
Your media team will also want to know every so often how many arrests and if local dignitaries, etc. have been arrested. You should not have to talk directly to the media though, that's what your media team is for!
(This is how we have done legal support for Big Blockades)
Prepare in Advance
* Have sheets of paper ready to record information as it is phoned in. You can scrawl it down quickly because Legal Observers at the action may have to be fast to save mobile batteries.
* Have a big table ready (on a computer or paper) with the following column headings:
Name, time arrested, charge, police station, time released, court, solicitor, notes.
* Have the registration forms ready in two piles, separated into men and women and in alphabetical order.
o Who they have listed as being arrested, and any other info (e.g. injuries).
o Note which groups of people left in the same police vans.
o Note who phoned, what time and which gate they were at.
* Once you have the information transfer it from the rough notes into the table and mark the rough notes to indicate this.
* Pull out those people's forms and put them in a separate pile.
You might have some idea of where people are being taken from the Legal Observers but wait until you get confirmation from police stations before filling it in on the table as sometimes they get diverted somewhere else on the way. It can be quite a long while (possibly some hours) before the police phone because they might hold people in vans for some time and then processing at the station can be very slow.
Check forms to see if anyone has asked that their friends or family are told of their arrest and whether anyone is on medication.
When police stations start to phone to inform you that they have someone in custody write down everything they tell you.
* Ask for the name of the officer and, if it's your first call from that station, check the phone number you would ring to contact them (if possible get a direct line or extension number although Strathclyde Police are operating a joint switchboard now and you may need to go through this every time, asking for the police station you need).
* Explain that you will be able to arrange lifts for people when they are released so you need a bit of warning.
* If they phone you about someone whom you know from their form is on medication - particularly for something like epilepsy - check that the police are aware of it.
* Tell the police officer that you can help by confirming people addresses. This will mean that you need to read out the addresses from the forms. They may not accept this and instead check with peoples local police which can take a long time.
At this stage you can sort the forms into separate piles for each police station. Although the police are only supposed to tell you about people who have asked for you to be informed you can develop a rapport with the officer you are dealing with and often find out a bit more. If you haven't heard about someone try asking the police station where the others in the same police van were taken. Offer to help if they are having trouble confirming addresses etc. You will be talking to the 'Custody Officer' or sometimes they are called the 'Bar Officer'. (The Custody area in a Scottish Police station is called the Charge Bar or Bar Office). There will be a shift change every 8 hours so an unhelpful officer could be replaced with someone much more co-operative. The reverse is also true!
If people have asked for solicitors then make contact with the solicitor and confirm this. If it is a Duty Solicitor then you may need to briefly explain your role.
When the police tell you they are starting to release people contact the drivers from your group so that they can go and pick people up. Police estimates of release times can be inaccurate.
When you or someone from your group (e.g. driver) has confirmed with the person themselves that they have been released fill in the rest of the table. It is a good idea to check with the police stations which have been used that they have no one else left in custody except people being kept for court.
Find out which court they will be in. If people are held on warrants for courts further afield then try to contact people who can get there to support them. Try phoning the Faslane 365 Legal Support Working Group if you need help.
When you are released from Custody, it's really good to have a friendly face there to meet you. Anyone who hasn't been arrested can do this - although at least some of the people in this role should be drivers with transport to get folk back when released.
Hopefully your Trackers will be able to give you an indication of when people are likely to be released, but if there's only a few police offices involved you could even have people waiting there anyway.
The most important part of this role is providing moral and emotional support: letting people talk about their experience, bringing them up to speed on what's happened while they've been inside and just being friendly. Have a flask of hot drink and some food and chocolate available. Make sure you have a mobile phone (with credit!) so that they can ring friends/family to reassure them that they're out and OK. It's also good if you have a general idea of what happened, how many others are released yet, etc. and (if it's out and there's been any coverage) a copy of the evening paper.
If you go to a police office to pick someone up, then it's a good idea to go into the front office and check that they haven't been released yet when you arrive. The police may give you an idea of how long until they will be although it's not always accurate!
When people are released make sure you write down a list of names, even if people want to dash straight off to their friend's house/B&B/etc. If possible, also check what they were charged with and if they signed an Undertaking (and if so to where and when). When it's calmed down ring these names through to the Trackers.
If anyone wishes to make a complaint about their treatment by the police then encourage them to sit down somewhere quiet and make detailed notes of everything they can remember about the incident as soon as possible. Anyone else who witnessed it should do the same. It's probably best to wait until you're rested and have collected your thoughts and notes before actually putting in the complaint - you can put it in in writing later on and ask them to come to you if they want to interview you. If someone does want to put in a complaint immediately they should ask for the Duty Inspector.
We have no idea how the Procurator Fiscal (PF - the prosecutors in Scotland) is going to respond to Faslane 365. There may be a stage at which some people are held for court the following day. The Trackers should know who that is and which court(s). For actions at Faslane people are usually taken to Helensburgh District Court or Dumbarton Sheriff's Court. The final decision about which court or whether in fact to just release people is made by the Procurator Fiscal when they start work in the morning. Dumbarton Sheriff Court sits every day Monday to Friday and custodies are usually heard from 12 noon. Helensburgh Court normally only sits one or two days a week (on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday). On these days custodies can be any time from 10am. If a special court has to convened (with a PF from Dumbarton, a clerk from Lochgilphead and a Justice from anywhere they can find one) then it can be well into the afternoon before anything happens but it will be the next working day some time. Check with the Helensburgh Police Office or with the Clerks Office.
When you arrive at court confirm with the court officer that peoples' names are on the court list and what time it is due to start. If anyone is using a solicitor then make yourself known to them.
At the Helensburgh District Court you can get there early and stand outside to give your "prisoners" a friendly wave as they arrive. The Reliance van will park round the corner on Sinclair St. Dumbarton Sheriff prisoners usually arrive very early and the van goes into the back of the court.
There are lots of rules about going into court which vary from place to place. You might have to take your hat off, you will be expected to sit in silence, usually you are not searched at these courts. Definitely turn your mobile phone off.
When the custody court starts try and sit near the front so that you can hear as much as possible. Write down as much of the proceedings as you can. Particularly listen out for the Trial Diet and possibly an Intermediate Diet date. (All Scottish court hearing are called diets). If there are any special bail conditions set note them down.
When people are given bail they will be taken back to the cells until their bail forms are completed and their property returned. In Dumbarton people are released around the back of the court building, in Helensburgh it's usually into the court room.
The Faslane 365 Solicitor is CLARE RYAN 07977 000 312
Clare Ryan will be available for anyone who needs a solicitor and her number can be put on your Bust Cards. If the work load gets too much she will share it with other sympathetic solicitors. If being the contact point gets too much we will contact later groups with another solicitors name and number.
Make sure everyone has read the legal briefing and has thought about in what circumstances they would need a solicitor. Much of the time you really do not need one.
It is a really good idea to make sure that everyone in your blockading group, whether they intend to risk arrest or not, is carrying a Bust Card.
A Bust Card should list:
We have here available a template for a bust card. Feel free to customize it or to do your own. Our template has the basic legal advice on the back and the contact info on the front, so you could use our template for the back but do your own front from scratch. It's a good idea to customize the card (and maybe print on coloured paper/card) so that it doesn't get mixed up with another groups bust cards if you are overlapping with another group.
We provide our template bust card in three formats:
For more info on the differnet formats and how to view them see here.
The way we have done legal support for previous Big Blockades has involved getting everyone to fill in a legal registration form before-hand. This has made life much easier for legal support on the day.
If you choose to go this route, we have provided below a template based on the legal registration form we use, which were developed over some years as the easiest format (we think!)
There are two sections you need to consider altering on the template before using it:
The "Use of Personal Info" section was developed in response to the introduction of the Data Protection Act. And because we agree with the principles behind it!
Basically, we wanted to ask two things: Firstly, can we use the info on the form for providing legal support to that person. Secondly, can we add them to our database and send them mailings about future actions.
Depending on the nature of the Blockading Group, what sort of future, if any, you envisage for it beyond this action, etc. you may wish to rephrase the second question or even remove it entirely. We have tried to phrase it fairly generally in the template so as to fit most groups. We strongly recommend leaving the first question in.
As a minimum, you should insert the name of your blockading group in the appropriate space (on the PDF it's a dotted line) in each of these two questions
We have usually done legal support from the same office as some of the media support team. They have found it useful if there was a media support section on the registration forms so that they could check for any useful info about arrestees which the arrestees were happy to give to the media. If your media support team will not make use of this section you may wish to remove it.
The form can be download in any of three formats below. The PDF is the best if you just want to print the form and fill in the blanks by hand. If you wish to edit the form you need one of the other formats. For more help with different formats and how to view/edit them see here.
Your first port of call for any Legal Support issues should be the Legal Support Team within your Blockading Group. If a Legal Support Team would like advice or support they can contact the Legal Working Group on the number below. For other (non-legal-support) queries which your Blockading Group would like advice or support on please contact the Steering Group.
Legal Working Group:
07768 312 678
0845 45 88 365 / 07768 312 676
07977 000 312
Helensburgh Police Office
(to check what time the District Court is sitting)
Dumbarton Sheriff Clerk's Office
(for both Dumbarton Sheriff and Helensburgh District Courts)
|Tel:||01436 633600 (to check what time the District Court is sitting)|
Switchboard 01436 674321 then press 1 for Faslane
Ask for the
Prisoner Processing Centre or
Police Duty Officer
(The extension numbers change all the time but do ask for one)
There are two sets of maps available. One gives maps for Helensburgh District Court and Dumbarton Sheriff Court, which are the two courts which cover Faslane. The other has maps for the Police Offices most likely to be used to hold anyone arrested. These only show the immediate area around the Police Office in question, so we'd advise you to have some form of Glasgow map available to get you from one to the other and to your accommodation, etc.
These sets of maps are only available in PDF. To download them click the relevant link below. If you don't know how to view PDF files see here for help.
Some Legal Support Teams will find it helpful to use a spreadsheet to organise the information about who has been arrested, etc. as they go along. Some will find it easier to use a big sheet of paper or a clipboard. However, the Legal Working Group would find it very helpful if at some point fairly soon after your group has blockaded you (or someone in your Blockading Group) could fill in one of the template spreadsheets below and email it to us. This will allow us to get an overview of what is happening on the legal front and so better advise the subsequent groups.
Please could you also fill in a Legal Feedback Form.
Those who are using a spreadsheet on the day may find it helpful to start from the templates below, although you may need to add extra columns (if so, please remove them from the version you send us).
The spreadsheet is available in three formats:
For more help with viewing/editing different file formats see here.
The OpenDocument and Excel format spreadsheets have the footnotes on the second sheet. You can also view the footnotes here.
The usual charges may be abbreviated as:
Any other charges should be written in as given by the police
The release column should give the type of release (or not!):
|R||Released on Report (standard release without any specific future dates)|
|U||Released on an Undertaking to come back to court on a specified day|
|B||Released on Bail having been held over for court|
|N||Not released (remanded)|
Only fill in the "Court" column if the person was either released on an Undertaking, Bailed or Remanded and so has a future court date set already. In this case give the court they are to come back to as:
|Hel||Helensburgh District Court|
|Hel (V)||Helensburgh District Court sitting in Victoria Halls (the accessible venue)|
|Dum||Dumbarton Sheriff Court|
For any other court please specify the court in full
Again, only fill in the "Court Date" in the same circumstances as the "Court" column, in which case please specify the date of the next court hearing or hearings.
Please specify all dates in DD/MM/YY format
If they have been released on an udertaking then they will just have one date, which will be for a Plea hearing, so just put that date
If they have been released on Bail or remanded then they will probably have two court dates, one for an Intermediate Diet and one for a Trial Diet, although they may be able to (persuade the court not to bother with an Intermediate). In this case please specify the dates as, for example:
"01/11/06 (Int), 14/11/06 (Trial)"
If they get any other type of hearing set (e.g. if they plead guilty the next day and sentence is deferred) please specify the date as, for example
01/03/07 (Other) then put something in the Notes column to explain what sort of hearing it is
You only need to fill in the "Age" column if the arrestee is under 16
You only need to fill in the "Nationality" column if the arrestee is either a non-UK national or resident outside the UK (see note 7)
You only need to fill in the "Country of Residence" column if the person is either a non-UK national or resident outside the UK. Please indicate in the notes field if they gave a UK address to the police either straight away on arrest or later as a "bail address" (and which)
Please indicate here anything else which you feel we should know, for example if they were given a reason why they were held for court (e.g. already on bail), if they are considering putting in any police complaints, etc.
The Legal Working Group would like the Legal Support Team in each Blockading Group to complete a short feedback form. This is so that we can have an overview of the legal situation and make the advice given to subsequent groups is as accurate as possible. There is also a spreadsheet we'd like you to get filled in and return to us.
The Feedback Form can be downloaded in any one of the three formats below then either emailed or posted to the Legal Working Group at the address on the form.
If you need help viewing or editing any of the files below, see here.
The following briefings are available for Legal Support Teams. They cover situations which won't usually arise, hence the title for this section (in case of emergency: break glass).
If your car is parked illegally or you are arrested while driving it the police could have it impounded. They get a contractor to tow it to a secure yard and you have to pay around £150 - £250 to get it released plus a daily fee for storage.
The company who has the contract with the police in this area is:
Robert Campbell Commercials
From Faslane North gate take the road directly opposite the North gate and at the first roundabout turn right. At the end of this road turn right onto the A82 alongside Loch Lomond. Go straight ahead at the next roundabout and then turn left at the next one. Just down the hill you come to another roundabout. Turn right here continue until you see the hospital on the right and Heather Ave is on the left (signposted to the Industrial Estate).
From Dumbarton/Glasgow direction take the A82. Turn right at the roundabout signposted A811 Stirling. Just down the hill you come to another roundabout. Turn right here continue until you see the hospital on the right and Heather Ave is on the left (signposted to the Industrial Estate).
Alexandria (on the Balloch line)
It's a good idea to ring them first and let them know you're coming otherwise you have to wait around once you get there while they do all the paperwork.
This briefing tries to explain what the Legal Support Team, especially the Trackers, need to do if anyone is taken to Hospital whilst under arrest. There is also a general information sheet about what hospital facilities are available near to Faslane.
If someone is injured or taken ill during the action then police officers should help with administering first aid or getting an ambulance. They may let your first aiders help or even deal with it. If the person has been arrested they could send police officers in the ambulance and refuse to allow friends to accompany the patient. Legal Observers should find out where the person is being taken.
The person could remain in custody whilst they are treated and then be taken to a Police Station. Or they could be de-arrested and abandoned at the hospital. Whether you send supporters and a vehicle to the hospital or await news will depend on how serious the injury or illness is and how distressed the person is.
Trackers should be made aware of anyone being hospitalised and phone the hospital for news after enough time for them to have arrived. The hospital may only give this to family members although they may also give some information to friends, especially if they are from the group the injured person was travelling with.
If someone has minor injuries or is unwell or needs prescription medication the police should call a police doctor to attend at the police station.
If trackers know that someone is injured or has a medical problem they should check that the officers at the police station are aware of this and ask whether a doctor has been called.
If their condition gets worse or the police doctor thinks they need treatment they could be taken to hospital. Police may stay with them or they could be released from custody and abandoned at the hospital.
Keep in touch with the police to find out what is happening and if necessary phone the hospital.
If people are being held in a Glasgow police station there are a number of hospitals that could be used for treatment. Ask the hospital for directions or see this site.
If someone wishes to make a police complaint related to their injuries, especially if they were inflicted or exacerbated by the police, then they should both take photographs of the injuries (at the time and a few days later) and also get them examined by an independent doctor fairly soon. If they are taken to A&E then they (or someone from the Legal Support Team) should write down the name of the doctor they saw. If someone from the Legal Support Team goes to the hospital they should try to find out the name of the doctor. The photographer and/or doctor might need to make a statement to the police and may even end up as a witness in court if the complaint is pursued.
This section contains information which might be needed by people who are being prosecuted for their involvement in Faslane 365 and for those in their Blockading Group who are supporting them.
The Procurator Fiscal (prosecutor in Scotland) sometimes writes to people who have been arrested and says that although there is enough evidence to prosecute they are being 'offered' the opportunity to pay a fixed penalty fine (also called a "fixed penalty notice" or "fiscal fine"). For a charge of Breach of the Peace for blockading Faslane this currently seems to be £50. The attraction is that it is not recorded as a conviction so you don’t get a criminal record (although it is still recorded on your police record).
You have various options:
This is likely to result in a citation to come to Helensburgh District Court for trial.
This will also probably result in a citation to come to court. The letter says you have 28 days to pay and they might take a while to process it when the time is up so if you want to delay it for a while you could do nothing.
If for whatever reason you pay this you can still send a letter saying that you do it under protest etc. It goes on your record, but is recorded as NOT being a conviction (as it says in the letter).
You do not have to declare it for jobs, even for jobs in social work etc, which in England/Wales are exempt from the main provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders act, meaning that all past convictions and cautions have to be declared. A couple of people have had problems when it has come up on a police computer check. These have been resolved after some letter writing.
It will not be brought up in court if you are subsequently convicted of another offence (past convictions get mentioned in court at the sentencing stage).
First of all, we will support you whatever you decide to do. It is your decision and we appreciate it that you joined the action and put yourself in the position of being arrested. Because everyone’s situation is different it is up to you how far you want to take things.
If you don’t pay up and have to come to court it is likely that you will be found guilty and fined up to £200. You will also have the hassle and expense of travelling here and sometimes cases get adjourned several times. You will also get a conviction on your record. That said, we can provide information and advice about how the court works, somewhere to stay when you come here and support in court. You also have the satisfaction of having had your say and there have been some really powerful moments in court. Whatever you say our persistence and strength of feeling is having an effect. The trial will probably be in a small local District Court, a good introduction to the legal system. For those that can manage to come for a trial it keeps the pressure on the system and is an indication of our resolve to get rid of Trident.
If you want to ask any questions please feel free to phone or e-mail us. In any case please let us know what you have decided to do if you have received a fixed penalty and of any further contact from the Procurator Fiscal’s office.
This briefing aims to help anyone who is being prosecuted for their participation in a blockade of Faslane to prepare and to explain the process involved. Hopefully you should be supported by your Blockading Group (or the Legal Support Team within the Blockading Group) through this process. The Legal Working Group of Faslane 365 can help them with advice, such as this briefing, and will try to answer any questions.
There is also a flowchart describing the process from arrest to court which is available here
Legal Working Group: 07768 312 678
legalworkinggroup at faslane365 dot org
Steering Group: 0845 45 88 365 / 07768 312 676
Tel: 07977 000 312
Address: 2 Douglas Gardens, Bearsden, Glasgow G61 2SJ.
1 East Princes Street,
Note: Maps of the local courts are available here
Argyll and Bute Council,
Argyll, PA31 8RT
Tel: 01546 604340
Fax: 01546 604373
2A High Street
Dumbarton, G82 1LL
Email: dumbarton at scotcourts dot gov dot uk
(for both Dumbarton Sheriff and Helensburgh District Courts)
2 St Mary's Way,
Dumbarton, G82 1NL
Tel: 01389 730972
Fax: 01389 731182
There are three ways a prosecution can start: either you are held overnight and taken to court the next day1, or you are released from the police office on an Undertaking or you receive a citation. If you receive a 'warning letter' from the Procurator Fiscal saying that he's not going to prosecute you this time (but might next time) then you can't then be prosecuted for that action.
You can receive a citation in a number of ways. The usual method, if you have simply been released without any paperwork, is for it to be sent by recorded delivery post. If there are problems with that then they may send the local police round to hand it to you personally. You can also be handed the citation as you are released from the police office.
The citation will contain a copy of the 'complaint' the Procurator Fiscal (PF - the prosecutor in Scotland) is making against you. It will also include the date of the Plea Hearing (see below), a form which you can fill in and post back if you want to enter a plea by post and a copy of your criminal record. There will also be a page with advice about Legal Aid.
If you are released from the police station without any paperwork and move from the address you gave to the police you should make sure whoever is there will either forward the citation on to you or tell the postman/police that you no longer live there so that the citation will be returned to the PF.
If the PF has been unable to deliver a citation they might ask the court for a warrant, but this is just to catch up with you to get you to court so they can find out your new address and give you a court date. They don't usually come looking for you but wait until you show up at Faslane again although some people who have been arrested at other demos have been held on a Scottish warrant and brought here. They have also arrested people on a warrant as they are released from prison.
If the citation has been delivered and you don't show up or send in the reply form then they will also ask for a warrant and will do the same thing as above, although they will view it slightly more seriously as you did know about it.
This is where you sign a document in the police office (before being released) agreeing to come back to court on a certain date. In this situation you do not get the actual 'complaint' (the charge against you) until you get to court on that day. You can also be given a citation as you leave the police station (see above). The difference is that the Undertaking is a single piece of paper with just a court date whereas the Citation has the full charge, reply form, criminal record, etc.
If you have signed an undertaking then it is an extra offence not to come to court on the specified day. If you can't make it, or live a long way away and would have great difficulty getting here, then you should probably consult a solicitor as soon as possible. (Note that you don't have to sign the Undertaking so if you know in advance you can't come that date, don't sign.) The court hearing that day will be a Pleading Diet (see below).
If you are taken straight to court (the next working day) then you will still be in custody when you get to court. You should be given a copy of the 'complaint' (the charge against you). You have the right to consult with a solicitor before going in to court - if you want to do this make sure you ask as early as possible so as not to be delayed more than necessary. You can either ask the solicitor to represent you in court or just ask them for some advice then represent yourself. Seeing a solicitor at this stage (while in custody) is always free.
Or held over the weekend and taken to court on Monday if arrested on Friday or Saturday. [Back]
The first hearing in any case is a Plea Hearing or Pleading Diet. If relevant it is also a Bail Hearing. This hearing will not be a trial. They will simply check your details, ask you to enter a plea ('Not Guilty' or 'Guilty') and possibly consider whether you should be on bail or not.
The court has three options in terms of releasing someone until the next hearing: They can release you on bail, release you without bail conditions (you will be 'Ordained to Appear' at the next hearing) or remand you in prison.
If you have received a citation and plead by post then they can't put you on bail - you have to be present to agree to the bail conditions to end up on bail. Thus, if you have received a citation then you shouldn't be put on bail even if you go along in person.
If you appear on an Undertaking they may ask for bail but you can argue that there is no need. If you appear from custody then you are more likely to end up on bail. Unless you are No Fixed Abode or are already on bail in Scotland or it's VERY serious then you are very unlikely to be remanded - unless you refuse to accept the bail conditions!
If you are put on bail in Scotland then there are a number of standard conditions which are always imposed. These are that you:
Turn up for all the court hearings in the case (unless excused attendance).
Do not commit another offence while on bail.
Do not interfere with witnesses or obstruct the course of justice.
Make yourself available for any reports the court has ordered.
(In practice, only the first two are usually relevant in our cases.) The PF can also ask for special conditions, such as not enter a certain area. You have the right to argue against any such conditions, or the need for bail at all. Once the court has decided to put you on bail and on what conditions you will be asked to agree to them. If you don't you will be remanded (sent to prison until the trial). If you are on bail and break any of the conditions then they can add an extra charge of Breach of Bail.
You will also be asked at this first hearing to enter a plea - 'Not Guilty' or 'Guilty'. If you want to challenge the validity of the charge in law, or are on an Undertaking and have only just got the complaint and want to consult a solicitor before pleading, then you can ask for the case to be Continued Without Plea to another date. Otherwise you would enter a plea. If you are on a citation then you can plead by post by filling in the attached form.
If you are jointly charged with one or more other people we suggest you get in touch with them so that you know which of you is pleading guilty or not guilty, and whether any of you wants a solicitor. Your Legal Support Team should be able to help put you in touch with co-accused.
Keep copies of all documents you receive from or send to the court. You may need them at a later date. You may also wish to send some or all such letters by recorded delivery.
If you have a citation then all you have to do is fill in Section 1 on the reply form and send it back. If there are extra things you want to ask the court you can add a covering letter.
These could include:
Tell them what dates you are not available to appear for trial. They don't have to take any notice of this but usually do. Trials are usually set for several months after the pleading date.
Ask to be excused attendance at an Intermediate Diet. (All Scottish court hearings are called 'diets' - don't worry, they won't ask what you had for breakfast and count the calories!) An Intermediate Diet is a hearing a week or two before the trial diet to check that both you and the PF are ready to go to trial. It means if you are not ready or there is a problem with one of the witnesses, etc. then they can change the trial diet and not have the witnesses turning up unnecessarily. In practice the PF still regularly asks for adjournments on the day of the trial because the police have only just told him/her they can't come. Intermediate Diets usually only take a few minutes and the District Court is usually willing to excuse you attendance at this if you have to travel any distance or most of the time doesn't bother setting them.
1.If you have any special requirements for the court, e.g. that it has disabled access for you or your witnesses or that it has the microphone loop system because you have hearing difficulties. The District Court in Helensburgh is held in the Municipal Building, on the first floor with no lift. If disabled access is required they have to arrange a date when they can use Victoria Halls. Likewise they set up the microphones at Victoria Halls. There is no disabled access to the main courtrooms at Dumbarton Sheriff Court and special arrangements have to be made to call the court in the ground floor annexe. Recently some activists have been arguing that all cases should be heard in an accessible court so that any member of the public can attend. While Helensburgh District Court has not accepted this when put explicitly they have been accepting requests to have the case heard in an accessible venue without requiring any special justification. However, they have fewer dates available in Victoria Halls so it will mean you have to wait longer for your trial. Also, if you have a lot of dates when you are unavailable and you don't physically need an accessible venue (either for yourself or a witness) then it might be safer to not ask for an accessible court. The dates they currently have available in Victoria Halls are already getting on for six months away and if your unavailability would push it much further back they may decide it's not reasonable --- but they would have to allow the request for an accessible court.
If English is not your first language then you can ask the court to arrange an interpreter.
You could include your request for copies of witness statements in the same envelope (see here for more on requesting witness statements).
The court will write to you to tell you when your trial date is. They should write to you within a few weeks of the Plea Hearing, although the actual trial date is likely to be 2-3 months away.
You can either do this by letter or come in person. Either way you can make a 'plea of mitigation'. This means you explain the mitigating circumstances of why you did what you are pleading guilty to. You can do this on the form at section 3 or if you want more room add a separate sheet. You can send anything you like really: leaflets, poems, songs, paper cranes, photographs.
If you plead by letter, when your name is called the PF will open your file and read your letter, then pass it to the clerk to read who then passes it to the Justice or Sheriff. No one reads it out aloud but those of us in court can see the reactions. If there are people in court supporting other people, whether from your Blockading Group or another, then it's quite nice for them to have a copy of your letter to pass around among themselves. Talk to your Legal Support Team (who can check with the Legal Working Group to see if there are other groups there that day). You may (or may not) also want to release the letter to your local press.
A word of warning - if in your explanation you say that you don't really think you did breach the peace then the court can decide not to accept your guilty plea and set a trial date anyway.
It is up to you whether you want to give details about your financial circumstances. In principle the court will fine you according to your means, although it often seems to rely more on who is 'on the bench' and what mood they are in.
The court can decide that even though you have pled guilty by letter they want you to appear in person for sentencing.
If you forget to reply in time, lose the paperwork etc. you can phone the PF's office (see here) to find out if they have set another date or issued a warrant. You may even hear through your Legal Support Team (if there was another group in court that day). Even if there is a warrant you can arrange with the PF to appear at the court in person on an 'invitational warrant' to sort it out. This means that you are not in custody but handing yourself into the court voluntarily. Often if they have not heard from you they 'Continue without plea' a couple of times to give you a chance to respond.
If you leave the country and therefore miss a trial or don't answer a citation the court may well issue a warrant. If you contact the court before the court date to explain that you have now left the PF may well just abandon the case. If a warrant is issued it will sit on the computer for several years. They are not going to send Interpol after you for a Breach of the Peace. It might show up at immigration if you come back into the country, and you might be arrested and brought here for court. If you come back here for another action or camp you may be recognised and arrested. We don't know if anyone who needs a visa to enter the country will be affected by outstanding warrants.
After a couple of years the warrant will be dropped. A warrant for an outstanding fine stays active for longer than a warrant for a missed court appearance.
If you pled by post then the court should write and give you your trial date. If you were there in person they will not write to you but will just expect you to turn up so make sure you have the date somewhere safe.
If you want a solicitor to defend you and you are eligible for legal aid the application to the legal aid board must be made within 14 days of the plea (although you can apply later in certain circumstances). If you contact a solicitor they will make the application for you.
There are good reasons both for and against being defended by a solicitor.
If you are unfamiliar with the court procedure and are worried about when is the right time to say what then they will do it for you. You can still give evidence from the witness box and a good solicitor will give you the opportunity to explain your motives.
If you are charged with something you didn't do (e.g. violently resisting arrest) you might need the help of a solicitor to get the evidence before the court. They will be more experienced at questioning the police.
You have a lot more freedom to say things than lawyers do (they can be reported to the Law Society if they go beyond laid down restrictions).
You can run whatever type of defence you like. You can research lots of good legal arguments or you can just talk common sense or you can even recite a poem.
If you don't qualify for legal aid it's cheaper.
Reclaiming the courts for ordinary people is part of the process of making the law accountable.
Then you need to contact them as soon as possible after you have put in a plea. You can contact them before pleading if you like and they can go to court and enter a plea for you.
We have been through quite a number of solicitors over the years in various campaigns at Faslane - and without risking being sued all we will say is there have been problems!
The solicitor we are currently using (who IS very helpful and DOES reply to messages) is:
Clare Ryan, 2 Douglas Gardens, Bearsden, Glasgow G61 2SJ. Tel: 07977 000 312
Even if you are represented by a solicitor you need to think about what you want to say when you get the opportunity.
Then think about the kind of things you want to bring out. You can look at the Trident Ploughshares website for examples of defences used in the past. There are also lots of legal documents there that may help you. Don't get overwhelmed by it all. You can keep it as simple as you like. Please feel free to send us any questions you have. We have lots of legal documents and know where to get others and can copy and send them to you.
You should also read the briefing on Representing Yourself and What Happens in Court. It also helps to talk to other people you know who have been in court.
It is always a good idea to have a few supporters in court. This is not an imposition or an extra, but part of supporting each other and being sustainable in our resistance to Trident. It's also always good to show the Courts that we are part of a growing movement. You may even find that there are people who couldn't risk arrest for whatever reason, maybe who couldn't even make the trip the first time, who value to the opportunity to contribute in this way.
If someone from the group gets in touch with the Legal Working Group just before the trial we can let you know if anyone else from other groups is likely to be there or if there are plea hearings from other groups to listen out for.
It is a good idea to phone the PF's office a couple of days before the trial to ask if they expect it to go ahead. If they are asking for an adjournment they might agree that you don't need to come. If on the trial day they then want to adjourn for something they should have known about in advance then you can complain that you had phoned and they might drop the case.
You may want to refer to the briefing on procedure as you read this section.
If you defend yourself the Justice1/Sheriff usually advises you as you go along as to the procedure. If you are in any doubt ask. Remember just stay calm, take your time. Speak up so that everyone can hear you. (Including your supporters who are behind you - literally!). You have the same rights as the PF and can interrupt if you think something he/she says is irrelevant!
The District Court is fairly informal and you can enter into debate with the Justice (Justice of the Peace - who is usually a lay person, not a trained lawyer). The Sheriffs Court is more formal, but because the sheriff is a trained lawyer they will give more serious consideration to any good legal arguments you may have.
You may want to go for a full legal defence using every argument you can lay your hands on. You may want to introduce a lot of moral arguments and personal testimonies. Or you may want to keep it simple. Whatever you feel is right for you must still do some preparation. The Justice/Sheriff can refuse to hear evidence if he doesn't think it is relevant. So have a fall back position if what you want to say is not allowed.
Witnesses against you (usually police) send statements to the Procurator Fiscal before the trial. You can write to the PF and ask him for the names of the prosecution witnesses and copies of their statements. Historically, the Crown's position has been that we don't have an automatic right to copies of statements if representing ourselves. However, Dumbarton PFs have usually given us them. It has often taken a bit of pushing (several letters/phone calls). The times when we haven't got them from Dumbarton have usually been because they didn't have them themselves. The Introduction of the European Convention on Human Rights into Scots Law a few years ago changed this situation somewhat. Our position is now that we do have the right to copies of statements. There have been a couple of occasions in other parts of Scotland where we have initially been refused statements and have had to put formal legal arguments - however the Crown has so far always conceded the argument before it was put! If you are refused statements and would like to know more about how to push for them then get in touch with the Legal Working Group. Cases have been adjourned because the PF has promised to send the statements and then has failed to do it or has only done it very near to the trial.
The witnesses can still say things in court that weren't in their statements, but it does give you an indication of who they are and where they fit into the picture. They help you focus and work out what questions you could ask them.
Also the statements let you know if the police are likely to give a completely different version of events to one you have. This gives you a chance to arrange your own witnesses, photos, videos etc to back up your story.
The PF will not allow witnesses who cannot come to the trial to write statements to be read out in the court, because they cannot be cross-examined. You can however present documents to the court as 'productions' for your defence if you give evidence yourself. These can include reports, articles, letters from MPs etc.
You can call anyone who was a witness to the action to give evidence on your behalf.
If you are defending yourself and are therefore not on legal aid your witnesses cannot claim their travel expenses.
We have in the past called expert witnesses to talk about things like the effects of Trident and International Law. The courts were very reluctant to hear them and since the Lord Advocates Reference Opinion was issued we have only tried once and been refused.
If you are found guilty, legally before sentencing you can call character witnesses (if you have no previous convictions).
In English courts it is possible to have what is called a McKenzie's Friend if you are representing yourself: this someone (it can be but often isn't a lawyer) ideally sitting next to you and helping you during the trial - e.g. with paperwork, whispered consultations re examinations of witnesses, moral support, etc. This right is established by the judgment in McKenzie v McKenzie which is an English case is not binding in the Scottish Courts. There was no objection to a McKenzie's friend in Helensburgh District Court at first but after a few instances (some years ago now) of the police identifying the 'friend' instead of the accused the PF started objecting. The court allows a note taker but usually don't let them sit next to you.
There have since been a helpful (although not technically binding) judgment from a Scottish civil court. Furthermore, under the European Convention of Human Rights you are entitled to a fair trial and it is very arguable that someone representing themselves should be allowed an assistant. If you wish to press for an assistant then we can offer some more detailed advice.
If you are representing yourself then it is a good idea to prepare the bits where you can speak. You can either read things out word for word or have notes to help you. Everyone is different so do whatever you feel comfortable with. Have a look at the Court Procedure briefing so that you can see where these bits fit in. These are all optional. You can go through the whole trial and say nothing - in fact it has been done to make a point!
If you think that they got anything wrong in the evidence they gave then question them on it. If you disagree with what they say make that clear. Say something like
Can I suggest to you, officer, that you are mistaken about that and what actually happened is this?.
You might want to ask them about the general atmosphere at the action or your behaviour in particular.
You can ask why there was a demonstration and had they been briefed before they arrived about what to expect.
If after the PF has put all the Crown evidence before the court you don't think it amounts to what you are charged with you can say so. It's hard to prepare this bit in advance other than to think about the kind of things you will be looking for in the evidence. At this stage it's not the quality of the evidence that is considered but the quantity. In other words your saying 'even if everything the PF and his witnesses have said is true, it's still not enough to show I committed a Breach of the Peace'. If the PF has not made out a case that you committed a crime then you can ask the court to throw it out without having to offer a defence.
If you have more than one charge you can submit that there is no case to answer on one charge and still continue to trial on the other charge(s).
In Breach of the Peace (BoP) cases there is an argument to be made about what constitutes a BoP. The cases to be quoted are the High Court Opinion in the appeals of Smith v Donnelly and Jones v Carnegie. (In the Case Law section or we can e-mail or post you a copy). If the evidence doesn't show that your behaviour caused someone to be alarmed, in fear or seriously disturbed, or would have done if they were there, then you can argue that there was no BoP. Some of our local JPs and Sheriffs think that just stopping people go about their 'lawful business' is seriously disturbing. Sheriffs have accepted that a publicised blockade that everybody locally is expecting is possibly annoying but not disturbing. The Helensburgh JPs do not accept this.
Bear in mind that if your submission is accepted then you will be found not guilty and your trial is finished which means that you don't get a chance to talk about Trident. Some people feel that they would rather risk being found guilty and get the chance to explain why they took part in the action so intentionally don't put in a submission at this stage.
If you go in the witness box the PF can ask you questions after you have given your evidence. It is your choice whether you give evidence or not. If you don't you still have a chance to sum up but can't refer to anything which wasn't given in evidence under oath or affirmation.
In your evidence you are supposed to give your version about what actually happened on the day in question. The court will not let you make a long speech about Trident. However you can get a certain amount in by explaining that you are 'setting the scene', testifying as to your 'state of mind' at the time, giving 'the facts about how you came to be there'. The PF might jump up at some point and object that your evidence is irrelevant. You can explain why it is and then the JP has to decide whether you can continue. If you are told to confine yourself to what happened then talk about the action but don't be afraid to weave Trident into the facts! Very occasionally a Justice decides that you are not supposed to read your evidence, so be familiar with it in case you need to do it from memory.
You can hand in things during your evidence including: Reports, results of polls, press cuttings, photographs, letters to and from people (e.g. MPs), poems. It is helpful to have three copies - one each for the JP/Sheriff (and the clerk), PF and yourself. If it's something you might want to show to one of the witnesses it's a good idea to have a fourth copy for the witness.
Laughter and tears are also important. Don't be afraid to offer both in your defence.
You get a chance to sum up your defence. This is where you argue why you are not guilty as charged. This (or the No Case to Answer) is where you would put your legal argument.
You should point out any inconsistencies in the PFs evidence and the things that any witnesses said that back up your defence e.g. that your behaviour was not threatening or alarming. You can try to pick apart the wording of the charge. The wording 'disorderly' in a legal sense means doing something as outrageous as laying in a road!. Even if your witnesses say you are a very orderly person you can still be considered disorderly in your actions.
You can quote from other cases but you should have a copy of them with you to show to the court. The High Court Opinion in Smith v Donnelly has some helpful bits about what is a Breach of the Peace.
If you base your defence on an explanation of how Trident is illegal then the court will ignore it (or stop you from speaking) because the High Court in Edinburgh has said that Trident is not illegal. We still usually say that we know that Trident is illegal even if the Scottish Courts don't recognise it!
You can add lots of politics and morality into your defence, but be ready to be stopped.
After being found guilty you have another chance to speak. You can give details of your income and the impact a large fine would have on you and your dependants. If you plead poverty you will tend to get a lower fine.
You can stress that your action was an act of conscience and was totally nonviolent.
Or, in the District Court, sometimes the Clerk [Back]
You can appeal against the verdict, or just against the level of the fine or both. If you want to appeal you have to lodge your appeal papers with the clerk within seven days so don't waste time! You can get the appeal form from our website.
Fines for a first offence for this sort of Breach of the Peace are usually in the £150-£250 range. If you get more than that it might well be worth appealing against the sentence. Appeals against conviction are unlikely to succeed - the most recent High Court judgment was from a court with 5 judges instead of the normal 3 so they won't go back on it. If you find a new angle then it might be worth appealing but think carefully about whether yours is the best case to take it on - a judgment on appeal then applies to all future cases.
You can always lodge the appeal as the first step is that the JP/Sheriff has to write an account of what happened at the trial and why they convicted you. You can then drop the appeal without any judgments.
The trial and any other legal processes represent a further opportunity to raise awareness of the issue of Trident and nuclear weapons in the media. Think in advance about whether you want to do this. It might be that someone else from your Blockading Group offers to take on doing the media work so make sure they are clear on what you are happy to be said in the press and what you would rather wasn't - including if you don't want to be included in a press release at all.
If you do any press work around your trial then please copy it to the Helensburgh Advertiser (the local Helensburgh paper) on editorial at helensburghadvertiser dot co dot uk
The District Court is the local Criminal Court. It is presided over by a Justice of the Peace (JP), who is a local 'respected person', not (usually) a trained lawyer1. The Clerk2 in a District Court is a trained lawyer and will advise the JP as to procedure where necessary (and on other points of law). The Procurator Fiscal (PF) is there to prosecute you. The PF decides which court you go to, what you are charged with and whether you even get tried at all.
Before your trial starts make sure any witnesses you want to call are out of the courtroom. The court officer will show them a room to go to.
If you are representing yourself remember that you have all the same rights to speak as a lawyer would, including the right to object to irrelevant, or speculative questions the PF might ask and to hearsay evidence. The JP should guide you through the procedure and you can stop and ask the JP/Clerk for advice on procedure at any point.
(Usually if you are defending yourself the JP explains the procedure as you go along. Often the JP, PF and Clerk mutter amongst themselves, you can ask them to speak up. In fact much of the proceedings are difficult to hear from the public section of the court, if you are straining to hear then your supporters also need you to ask people to speak louder)
It can sometimes be tricky to work out exactly where to say what in a trial. The general rule is that anything factual must be said in evidence by a witness. This includes introducing documents, photos, etc. Legal argument would be said either in Summing Up or as part of a submission of No Case to Answer. The legal argument can refer to facts established in evidence and can comment of whether one version or another should be believed but can’t introduce new facts.
Of course there are aspects which cross over. For example, the fact that Trident is illegal, while of a legal nature, is something you would have to say in evidence. That this then means you should be acquitted would be a legal argument made in summing up3.
The most likely charge for blockading Faslane is Breach of the Peace1. This is a Common Law offence, which means it's not in any Act of Parliament but instead is defined by previous court judgments. While these judgments go back hundreds of years, there have been several recently which are the "leading judgments", that is, the modern definition. They all involve activists accused of blockading - the main two both involve actions at Faslane!
Note that the comments below on the cases are from activists with some experience of the Scottish legal system, especially in relation to blockading Faslane, but are not from lawyers.
This judgment is from 2001. It was a pre-trial legal appeal from a Faslane case, taken on the basis that the definition of Breach of the Peace in Scots Law was so broad and vague that it couldn't comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. While this appeal was technically rejected, in doing so the High Court narrowed the definition somewhat. This is in many ways the defining case for Breach of the Peace these days - although the judgment in Jones v Carnegie would take precedence over this, Smith v Donnelly is a much fuller, more detailed description of Breach of the Peace.
Smith v Donnelly says that
what is required to constitute the crime is conduct severe enough to cause alarm to ordinary people and threaten serious disturbance to the community. They said that
something substantially greater than mere irritation is involved and that what is required is
conduct which does present as genuinely alarming and disturbing, in its context, to any reasonable person. At first glance, we clearly should be acquitted on this basis, but Helensburgh District Court, at least, will usually convict none the less.
The court did say, in Smith v Donnelly, that it wasn't essential that there was evidence that anyone was actually alarmed, but that if there wasn't such evidence then the conduct must have been
flagrant and goes on to say that
'Flagrant' is a strong word and the use of that word points to a standard of conduct which would be alarming or seriously disturbing to any reasonable person in the particular circumstances.
The full judgment is available here.
This was a case where five separate appeals, from a range of cases, were combined and heard in front of a panel of five High Court Judges (instead of the usual three2) in order to review the law on Breach of the Peace.
Two of the five cases involved blockades of Faslane and Coulport while a third was of an anti-nuclear activist who had interrupted the Scottish Parliament. The other two cases were unrelated.
Despite the fact that this was meant to be a review of the law on Breach of the Peace, the Court in fact did little more than look at each of the five cases separately and pronounce of whether their appeals should be upheld or dismissed. In many ways it is a much less comprehensive review than Smith v Donnelly was and primarily seems to reinforce the judgment from that case.
However, each of the three appeals by anti-nuclear activists was dismissed and there are some relevant comments in there to certain lines of defence.
The full judgment can be found here.
This was an appeal by the Crown against the acquittal of a number of people for blockading a military supply company in Glasgow during the G8. They were acquitted on a No Case to Answer submission on the basis that their conduct had not been sufficiently "Flagrant". The appeal was dismissed (i.e. the acquittal was upheld).
The judgment in this appeal was only given on 6 October 2006 so it is too early to tell what, if any, effect this will have in Helensburgh District Court.
The full judgment can be found here.
Those who know any English law should be aware that "Breach of the Peace" in Scottish law is completely separate and different from the concept called "Breach of the Peace" in English law. [Back]
Usually, the High Court is bound by it's own previous decisions. However, a larger panel of judges can overrule a smaller panel. [Back]
My first arrest at Faslane was in 2003. Getting over the "arrest hurdle" can be a bit daunting so I thought Why not do it in company? Armed only with a karabiner, secured around my wrist by rope, I took one of the buses from Glasgow out to North Gate at Faslane. The crowd sitting in the gateway had the entire entrance blocked and I spent some time enjoying the relaxed atmosphere but decided I was unlikely to be arrested there. I headed down to the South Gate and, walking up the road to the gate, ran into a group with various props, lock-on tubes etc. Word went around that South Gate was open to traffic and it was decided to blockade where we were, to the consternation of the few police who were in attendance. I found someone to lock-on with and in seconds there was a jolly little group of 15 to 20 people in a heap of arms, legs and tubes complete with police and supporters standing around. Lying in the road was fun as people fed us and gave us drinks, cigarettes and encouragement. A light shower dampened us but it was all in a good cause.
Eventually the "cutting team" arrived and one by one we were removed from the bundle and taken to awaiting vans. I ended up at Greenock and spent a few damp hours in the cells a bit cold but happy to have achieved my first arrest for our cause. In all there were 171 arrests that day and in the end the charges against me were quietly forgotten.
Scotland's a long way from Bristol - but here we are at last, all seventeen of us, more than a little dazed by the seven-hour journey. We scour around and find a bit of floor space in this overcrowded penguin colony, Glasgow's Kinning Park community centre where, in company with activists from all over, we'll spend our first night.
Night falls. We eat good hot vegan food, and drink strong tea. Heart-lifting singing from the group Seize the Day, who have been invited here to entertain us. With my hammer I will break the chain ...
Driving out into darkness next morning, past the Faslane naval base. Miles and miles and miles of mesh and razor wire and steel. A blight on the landscape. A death camp.
Out of the coaches, and streaming up the hill behind others, all heading the same way. My heart thumping now. Are we going to make it to the gate, or will they stop us?
And here we are, in front of North gate, milling about. The gates are shut and guarded. Yellow jackets everywhere. But they're not stopping us being around. People are sitting down. Quite a few have locked on to each other already.
Reeling with tiredness, but on a high with all the music and colourful banners and the cheering and singing. I get a glimpse of the soles of George Gallloway's feet, and of the frenzied media pack hurtling after as the police rush him horizontally to the nearest holding van.
Warned by a copper - asked if I'm going to move. Would you like a biscuit, Inspector? Next thing I know, I'm off the ground and on my way to the nick.
A slow, slow queue for processing, along with lots of other people. A longer wait while the vehicle I'm in fills up gradually with new arrestees. Then we're off. Where to? Dunno. Kilmarnock, I think.
The knowing smile on the face of a policewoman, as I say to her. So if eighty per cent of Scots are opposed to Trident, some of those must be in the police?
Watching Loch Lomond roll by from the back of the speeding van.
The unexpected gesture of chocolate biscuits with our cop shop tea. Real milk, instead of the usual stingy dollop of milk powder. Is someone trying to tell us something ?
An afternoon spent pleasantly enough, in a cell with a 70s-something veteran activist, a middle-aged woman who's in the Scottish Nationalist Party and has a lot of information at her fingertips, and a pleasant young woman with colourful boots. I get to practice the penny whistle quite a lot. The others are tolerant.
A few years later
Flat on my back on the road to South gate, locked on to Sam's wheelchair. Even from this odd position, I note with satisfaction that a lorry has just been turned back up the road. Seems we're effective.
The rest of the space visible to me from my present worm's-eye view is crowded with capering figures. Some carry life-size images of long-necked pink birds. A petite woman in delicate red draperies stands by a tallish figure disguised from head to toe in a rabbit costume.
A legal observer stands by the wheelchair, as the police turn up. His is a kind, reassuring presence. I tell the sergeant where the key to the bike lock round my neck is. At my request, someone threw it in the water. With heavy jesting about whether it's the lock or the loch we're talking about, the police set to work with their cutters, parting me from Sam's wheelchair.
By the time I'm sitting on a bench inside the MoD police station, the cops have rounded up the whole band of Alice in Wonderland characters, the dainty Red Queen and the floppy-headed rabbit among them. (The flamingos, it turns out, were lock-on tubes.) As the whole cast is led into the reception room, it's a comical sight.
Once out of nick, as in past years, we all get the Scottish papers to see what they say. Lots of pictures. Over three hundred arrests, including of church leaders and MPs. Faslane nuclear naval base all but closed for several hours. "Essential" staff had to be brought in by boat across the Loch. English media never cover the Faslane blockade story, but Scotland can be relied on.
So the world - or at least most of Scotland - now knows all about it. Resistance to nuclear madness goes on.
Now comes the long road journey back to the South West - all of us weary, but quite satisfied at having helped make an event happen. When, in half-asleep Southern England will we ever manage similar things?
The return to Scotland for Helensburgh Magistrates' court comes later. Already I know the courtroom will be full of my friends and supporters, and the likely consequence nothing more terrible than a fine. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof??
It's always good fun and a strong message to give to the nuclear weapon establishment that you are willing to spend a day in a cell and sometimes a day in court too for what you believe in.
Being together in an arrest makes time pass quickly and you have support around you. At mass arrest there will be people both inside and outside to take care that no-one will suffer any pain during the day, and that all in the end of the day will have a good feeling of having done something for the disarmament and peace in this world. That takes away all fear of being put behind bars for some hours.
Go for it - and give power to the international solidarity.
I've been arrested about 7 times at Faslane, at least 4 of them for blockading, but have never been brought to court. (Is this a record?) In all those times I've found the police courteous, friendly within their professional code, and often quite helpful. Although I may have benefited from being a grandmother in her 70s, with white hair to make her age very visible, my observation of the police in action tells me that courtesy and patience are generally the order of the day. In any case, probably the police do not want to make any anti-Trident martyrs!
Being in police cells can be incredibly boring. My worst times were when I forgot to bring a paperback with me, but on one of those occasions a WPC kindly provided me with some women's mags. I've nearly always been in a cell on my own, which adds loneliness to boredom. But I always try to remember that loneliness and boredom are shamefully miniscule problems compared to the ones faced by people detained in totalitarian regimes or under apartheid (which of course was totalitarian for blacks).
I've nearly always been with a group, doing a lock-on or a coordinated sit-down , but once I just sat down because someone in the group at my feet said, Come and join us! Being in a group gives you a great feeling of strength and enjoyment. And I'm certainly prepared to be arrested again, group or no group. It may not bring the walls down, but it is a highly practical way to witness for one's belief, and it does help to make significant numbers!
Faslane 2003 was my first ever arrest (discounting that one little one for shoplifting as a teenager).
I was quite nervous even though I traveled with a group. We'd thought out our lock on and practiced it so we were pretty sure we knew what we were doing but the arrest bit itself, and the idea of being cut out were a different matter.
The atmosphere on the morning was amazing, so many people all with the same mindset I'd never experienced anything like it. Everybody was looking out for each other. Both of my arms were locked on so I had no free hands, but people fed me food and drink, and when it began to rain a large canvas/parachute type affair appeared from somewhere and people held it over us so we stayed reasonably dry.
When the police decided to start moving us the atmosphere remained calm and friendly and by this time I wasn't worried about being arrested anymore though the cutting tool operating above my wrist was pretty scary as I could feel the warmth being generated.
It had to be the one time my weight was a real advantage, four big burly policemen had to put me down twice whilst carrying me to the van as my weight was just too much for them.
I shared a cell at the police station with two other women, unfortunately one of them was unwell and was eventually allowed to go sit somewhere else. We talked for a while, then we slept, or I tried to sleep but was far too hyped up so I read instead. The time went reasonably fast, and the police officers were friendly. The food however left something to be desired.
I felt at the same time proud and sort of disconcerted to be arrested for the first time in my 40's. Would I do it again? You bet, though next time we will be bringing cushions to sit on.
The 2003 Big Blockade was not only our first direct action as an affinity group, it was also the first arrest for 4 out of 7 of us. We had spent a hysterically funny couple of days beforehand making lock-ons with a combination of steel chain, chicken wire, plaster of paris and plastic drain pipe. The result was us, and my living room, covered in plaster and a lock on which we had to swathe in plastic bin liners on the day when we realised it was starting to dissolve in the rain.
At the Blockade we locked on with people from Norwich and Stafford on the day (having practised with them the night before). We were slow and disorganised but the police politely ignored us until we were all securely attached to each other. After 6 hours of being locked together in a wriggling heap, getting utterly drenched when the heavens opened and getting sunburnt the rest of the time, we all knew each other very well. (In fact we've continued to work with each other since then).
When the police got to us they cut everyone off individually rather than deal with the central lock-ons (although I gather that they did cut the final one in half and it took 20 minutes and gained their compliments). They were careful, and chatty and took over 1 1/2 hours to remove us all. Some of us ended up in individual cells and others in threes but we were all released that night. My only complaint was that they didn't have any vegan food available so I didn't get fed.
As for the aftermath: one of us pled guilty, one was found guilty, one was let off because the police mixed up their witnesses, another got let off because one of her police witnesses had moved to Spain, one had her case canceled because her co-defendant kept not being available for court, and I turned up only to be let off because the Prosecution had forgotten that he was going to have my case that day! Surely they'd have saved time and money by not prosecuting. However, logic has never been a strong point for this government.
It was a wonderful first action - we had a great time, became a real affinity group, and have since done other actions together.
There have been 4 blockades of Faslane since 2000 where significant numbers of Irish people have participated. In February 2001, 70 Irish people joined 1,100 others in blocking the North and South gates of Faslane. 350 of the 1,100 were arrested including 31 Irish. The arrested included George Galloway, Tommy Sheridan and Caroline Lucas. The blockade would have started about 7am. All of the Irish were arrested by 10am and taken to various police stations around Glasgow. All were released by 6pm that evening. One group had the misfortune of being strip-searched. They were sent to a police station which had not originally been on the list of destinations for arrestees but was asked to help out due to larger than expected numbers of arrests. The Scottish police subsequently apologised for this incident which broke their established protocol of how to deal with arrested anti nuke protestors. All of the Irish arrested gave their home addresses to the police. In the aftermath most got letters saying they could pay a £50 fine by post and thus have no record or face the possibility of prosecution and record if they did not pay. Some got no letter while others got no choice and were given court dates. Most paid the £50. Of those who went to court some got off while others had to pay £200 fines.
In October 2001 70 Irish joined about 700 others in another blockade. Numbers seemed to have gone down after September 11. About 10 of the Irish were arrested for sitting on the road including Patricia Mc Kenna. 8 of these were attached together with drainpipes and chains which took the police 30 minutes to cut through using the tools doctors use to take plaster casts of people without cutting them. In the lead up to this blockade the word was out that all non-UK nationals that were arrested would be held overnight and brought to court the next morning. As such, all Irish arrested adopted the tactic of giving UK addresses. The address cited would have had to have had someone willing to answer the phone to confirm that the Irish person lived there. Thus all arrested were released by 7pm that evening. Of this group some were subsequently summoned to court while others heard nothing. Those who ignored summonses may have a warrant for their arrest in Scotland though this is not likely as in order for this to happen their names would have had to have been called out in the district court at Faslane and the Trident Ploughshares/Scottish CND would have heard about it and passed on details. Those who attended court got fines of up to £200 while one person got off giving a spectacular defence that he had been raised to be anti nuke and as such was only doing what he believed to be right.
In February 2002 about 25 Irish attended a 3 day blockade of Faslane. The main groups engaged in the three days of action were the Irish group, a Swedish group and the Belgian For Mother Earth group along with some Scots people. Some of the Irish arrested did indeed stay overnight in the police stations and went to court the next morning to avoid future hassles with court summonses, paid their fine and walked free.
A further blockade took place in April 2003. About 15 Irish went and again there were a few arrests.
Quarter to seven on a gloomy September morning. We file quietly onto the road that leads to Coulport Naval Base, where the nuclear warheads for the Trident submarines are stored. Each pair carries an a length of arm-width plastic tubing between them, karabiner clips at the ready. The tubes are dubiously hidden within sandwich-board style placards so we've fingers crossed against meeting any MOD police patrols.
Nearly there - and we're hoping that the police at the gate will assume we're merely another banner-waving vigil - but they're not that easily fooled and block our path.. We sit down and try to clip together between pairs but one of the tubes gets yanked away from us.. This means that we have a group of 4 and one isolated pair. But we look around - we are more or less blocking the road and the traffic is stopped. Yes, we have a blockade!
The police inspect our tubes and manage to undo one of the screws through the shorter tubes and unclip my partner's karabiner. But I hang tight onto my end so the screw jams and they leave me with the tube, lying by myself on the ground expecting to be hauled away any moment. But, the arm on the other side is looking for a tube to grab into, so - much to the chagrin of the police - we manage to join up. Now we are 2 groups of 3.
We hear from our supporters that the other entrance is blocked by a tripod. Hoorah! 'Don't know what you're so pleased about, say the police, there's only one person up it?' Duh - how many does it need?. Then they tell us we may as well unclip because they'll have us out anyway within 15 minutes and if we go now they won't arrest us. Oh, temptation! But we check out with everyone and the group consensus is to stick it out.
Cars are being ushered slowly through the gap on one side - oh for an extra person - but the buses are forced to disgorge their passengers who have to walk into the base. As they file past we urge them to look for better employment than servicing weapons of mass destruction.
Then one of our trios seizes advantage of a distraction and wriggles sideways to block the remaining gap so no traffic at all can flow.
We can't see what's happening on the approach roads - the police have erected screens around us - but we hear afterwards that the traffic was backed up as far as our camp.
An hour or so later (so much for their 15 minutes) the cutting gear is brought out. The police first warn us and formally arrest us. Their blurb advises us to consider our reputations and what our families will think. Are they kidding? Our families would be sorely disappointed if we weren't trying to prevent nuclear crime.
The thinnish drainpipe plastic yields fairly quickly to the rotary cutters. The thicker blue water pipe takes much longer and if we'd had even thicker yellow gas pipe that would take longer still. As would steel pipe, though the drawback with this is its weight.
Mindful of health and safety (never mind the nuclear warheads behind the fence!) the police shield us from any flying fragments and we remind them to wear their goggles too. Once we're cut out and unclipped we're asked if we'll walk to the waiting minibus. Some of us do, some don't and have to be carried there.
But eventually we're all bundled in and taken along to Faslane, to the police unit inside the base. There we meet the dangler from the tripod. He's in the holding cell one side, us women on the other. We shout encouragement, share out remaining food from our pockets, and do some yoga and jump about to warm and loosen up. And we get a cup of tea.
The processing takes ages. We're searched, have our possessions bagged and sealed, are fingerprinted, photographed and have DNA samples taken. We get self-heating cans of vegetable curry for lunch and aluminium foil blankets in case we get cold but which make us crackle like oven-ready roasts. We sing songs and tell jokes and get taken one by one for interview with two very charming ladies who belong to the CID branch of the MOD and who have come up from England specially for the camp. They ask us what other groups we have links with and we tell them that, for a substantial donation to funds we will spill the beans on everything that's already on the Trident Ploughshares website.
Eventually we are taken back to the desk officer to be charged, and to get our stuff back, and invited into the minibus to be taken to the bus stop outside the front gate where our own transport is waiting to take us back to camp.
This page contains updates to previously published briefings and answers to some questions that the Legal Support Working Group gets asked.
The online copies of the briefings will contain the updated information. If you want to print out a copy including the additions then the best bet is to download the required briefing in PDF format, which will also include the changes.
We have added the following paragraph to the Legal Briefing for Internationals (PDF) on 28 September 2006.
Often people with addresses outside the UK will just be released like everyone else. There was a previous blockade where they wanted all Internationals to sign Undertakings, and many chose to give a UK address on arrest so as to avoid this. If it comes to holding people for court and putting them on bail then the Helensburgh court has accepted foreign addresses but the courts sometimes refuse to bail people to a non-UK address.
If you live abroad, it would be a good idea to have a UK address you can use if you need to. It's your decision whether to give it on arrest or to make the point that you've come from abroad by giving your foreign address and hold the UK address in reserve in case you need it for bail.
If you give an address on arrest then they will try to verify it. One way they sometimes do this, with UK addresses, is to ask the local police to go round and ask if you live there, or to telephone the address if you give them a phone number. If you give a UK address, therefore, you need to check with the people who live there to make sure it's OK and that everyone who lives there knows that you live there. Any citations, etc. will get sent to that address so you need to make sure you have a system for getting them sent on to you, if you move.
A paragraph was added to the Legal Briefing for Blockading (PDF) under "Other Offences" to explain about the new criminal trespass law covering Faslane. This is included in the legal briefing in the second edition of the Resource Pack but was not in the first edition.
We also added an item to the Faslane 365 FAQ to cover this, which is also given here:
I've heard that you can now get arrested under the Terrorism Act at Faslane. Is this true?
There are a number of sites around the UK, one of which is Faslane, which are "Designated Areas" under a new power in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (as amended by the Terrorism Act 2006). It is an offence under this to be inside Faslane without lawful authority.
However, this only applies if you go inside the fence. As long as you stay outside the fence this does not apply - even if you are on MoD land and blockading the gates.
For more information on this see http://www.tridentploughshares.org/article1405
Information about the Trident system.
On October 19, 2005, Tony Blair told the House of Commons, I do not think that anyone pretends that the independent nuclear deterrent is a defence against terrorism; none the less, I believe that it is an important part of our defence? He was talking about Trident nuclear weapons. At Faslane, near Glasgow, Britain currently deploys four Trident nuclear submarines, equipped with US missiles and up to 200 warheads, made at Aldermaston in Berkshire. The warheads could each deliver around 8 times the destructive power of the bombs that obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
Although the weapons were procured in 1979 by Margaret Thatcher in a world that is fundamentally different from now, the Labour government has carried on paying some £800 million per year of taxpayers' money to keep sending Trident out on patrol. If Trident were to be decommissioned now, we would not save the full amount, but we'd save a lot. Dismantling the weapons and securing the radioactive waste would be expensive as well, but that would be the case whenever decommissioning took place. If we started the process of disengaging from nuclear weapons, we would save significant resources, while making our world safer by disarming and devaluing nuclear weapons and working more effectively with the rest of the world in combating proliferation and dealing with the causes of conflict.
In the 21st century, this is the kind of security policy that makes most sense, but it is not what Tony Blair has in mind. If the government fails to scrap Trident now, then around the year 2024 (and £15.2 billion later) the submarines will begin to fall apart. Relying on arguments that are several times thinner than the dodgy dossier used to take Britain into war in 2003, Blair wants this parliament to agree to spend a further £40 billion on new nuclear submarines and warheads to ensure that this country continues to have nuclear weapons until at least the year 2055. At the same time, we are desperately trying to prevent further countries, such as Iran, from developing nuclear weapons programmes.
The defence establishment is divided, as there is no convincing rationale for keeping nuclear weapons. We have a real opportunity to block the decision to commission Son of Trident, but we are up against a panoply of myths and ideologies: that nuclear weapons keep the peace, make us safe, give us status, provide bigger bangs for the buck than conventional weapons, and, the biggest voodoo mantra of all, that they deter other threats.
On the contrary, the huge US and Russian nuclear arsenals were completely irrelevant in the wars these superpowers fought and lost in Vietnam and Afghanistan, and they did not stop Saddam Hussein from invading Kuwait. Tony Blair acknowledges that nuclear weapons are useless against terrorism, and it is clear that they contribute nothing to preventing the kinds of attacks we saw recently in London. Meanwhile, the risks of nuclear proliferation are growing, compounding the increased vulnerability of nuclear materials and technology to theft, accident or purchase on the black market. It should be obvious by now that nuclear weapons are an expensive security liability, useless for defence or deterrence. That ought to be reason enough to get rid of them. But the dangers go much deeper.
Nuclear weapons are the tap-root of violence in the world today. The ultimate expression of militarism and terrorism, they pollute and degrade our spirit, our environment, our economy and our international relations. The use and threat of use of nuclear weapons are in violation of international and humanitarian law and undermine the whole international legal order, but that has not prevented doctrines and deployments that breach these norms. Britain is guilty of these violations, along with France, China, Russia, the United States, Israel, India, Pakistan and, most recently North Korea. As Iran seeks to join this shameful club, it has become increasingly clear that nuclear weapons distort all our efforts to create just and sustainable societies in a fragile, interdependent world.
Hanging on to nuclear weapons carries heavy costs for our security, society, civil liberties and human rights that far outweigh the monetary costs. Continuing with this nuclear business will exacerbate the negative consequences, not only in terms of our foreign and defence policies and international relations, but also in the distortion of our economic, energy and even health policies.
The worldview that drives countries to acquire or hold on to nuclear weapons is the same worldview that concentrates power in multilateral corporations. A few examples:
The world is held hostage to the excessive energy consumption of a minority, who seek to control the world's oil for their own purposes. Hurricanes, floods, melting ice caps... the evidence of climate change is now all around us, but governments in hock to fossil fuel companies and vehicle manufacturers are afraid to take necessary steps to cut emissions. Instead they are trying to rebrand and revive nuclear power as the technological fix to stave off climate catastrophe, starving alternative research programmes that would provide sustainable, renewable energy resources that could be produced and managed locally. Nuclear weapons and nuclear power are produced by the same technology and rely upon each other. Sharing the same unsolved problems of lethal radioactive waste, they are incompatible with our health and safety and are susceptible to catastrophic accidents like Chernobyl.
The countries with the biggest nuclear arsenals also have the most sophisticated conventional weaponry and are the largest profiteers from the arms trade. Their weapons fuel wars, oppression and instability in the most vulnerable countries in the world, and many end up on the `illicit' markets, where they arm militias and gangs that traffic in people, drugs and the prolific small arms and light weapons used in rapes, murders and other violent crime.
Agribusinesses have privatised, centralised and mass produced the growing of food to maximise output and profit. Their practices have robbed large parts of the Earth of their natural fertility, poisoned others and turned vast areas into wasteland. The consequence is that millions in some countries starve, while others are malnourished with junk food contaminated with pesticides, additives and genetic modifications. These agribusinesses rob local farmers of their skills, prevent them from saving their own seed, and unnecessarily transport agricultural products across the world, which wastes energy and contributes to climate change.
Pharmaceutical corporations benefit from the knowledge and resources of the natural world and indigenous peoples; they then make huge profits out of manufacturing medicines that they refuse to make accessible to the poor and needy, as illustrated by the denial of affordable drugs to AIDS sufferers in Africa and Asia.
On the excuse of preventing 'industrial espionage', US-run pharmaceutical corporations and the industry's lobbyists were behind the United States wrecking an international agreement to verify the Biological Weapons Convention, a global treaty that bans the production and use of biological and toxin weapons. Bioweapons are one of the most potentially devastating of weapons of mass destruction, yet the US action wasted five years negotiations and left the international community without any verification or inspection powers to strengthen the treaty.
Protecting US commercial interests and investments is given as one of the primary reasons for deploying weapons in space. US Strategic Command called for full spectrum dominance, not only in outer space, but on earth, land and sea, dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US national interests and investment?[and] integrating space forces into war-fighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict. In Pentagon 'war-games' in which computers tried out various scenarios, the use of weapons in space quickly spread to nuclear war on Earth.
The politicians that have stripped away decades of developments in human rights and international law and gone to war on the pretext of preventing others acquiring weapons of mass destruction are deeply dependent on these multinational corporations. It should come as no surprise to find that in advance of commissioning Son of Trident, the MoD in 2003 signed a new 25-year contract with the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) management consortium, comprising US arms giant Lockheed Martin, British Nuclear Fuels, and Serco. That contract alone will be worth some £5.3 billion to those corporations.
Governments that are so busy spending our money and wasting the world's resources on building up military capabilities are failing to address the most serious challenges facing the world. Of what conceivable use are nuclear weapons against the real mass destruction that threatens our security and the lives of millions: the oil-and-industry-driven heating of the planet; destruction of our habitat and environment; and the institutionalised poverty that destroys the hopes and lives of thousands each day?
Representing a quick and violent `fix' to complex threats and challenges, nuclear weapons epitomise the abuses of power and skewed values that fuel terrorism and the growing levels of violence in our homes and on our streets. Trident is thus inextricably related to a wide range of economic, humanitarian, peace and justice issues.
The year-long blockade of the Faslane nuclear base that will start on October 1 will provide an opportunity for a wide range of people to oppose the deployment and replacement of Trident, while simultaneously highlighting the important issues they are working on, such as poverty, peace, environment, globalisation, economic equity and social justice. Bringing together the people and organisations working for a better world will help to expose the myriad crimes and distortions wrought by the nuclear mentality and globalised dominance of military-industrial corporations.
If we succeed in cutting the cord that binds our country to nuclear weapons, we will find that we have gone a long way towards cutting or at least loosening the hold of the military mindset and the dominant corporations, giving us a better chance to turn things around on a host of connected issues.
Faslane 365 is asking for 48 hours of your time to make the connections: to publicise and work on your issues while helping us physically to close the Trident nuclear base.
There is a wealth of information on the internet about nuclear weapons and about Britain's nuclear weapons: Trident. Listed here is just a selection