On 3rd April 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received written answers to two questions on street preachers.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what guidance they provide to police officers on dealing with incidents involving street preachers.
Baroness Williams of Trafford: The right to freedom of expression is a vital part of a democratic society. It is a long-standing tradition in this country that people are free to share their views with others.
There is a responsibility that comes with these rights and a person’s views and actions must not cross the boundary into criminal acts. The exercise of police powers in an individual case where they suspect a criminal act has been committed is an operational matter for the police.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people have been arrested as a result of a speech they have made in each year since 2010; in each case, what were those individuals’ (1) religious, and (2) political affiliations; and how many such arrests resulted in a successful prosecution.
Baroness Williams of Trafford: The Home Office does not hold centrally the information requested.
The Home Office collects and publishes data on the number of arrests for notifiable offences on a financial year basis, however, specific details about the offence are not collected so it is not possible to separately identify those made as a result of a speech.
Data on the number of arrests, by offence group, are published in the ‘Police Powers and Procedures, England and Wales’ statistical bulletin, which can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/police-powers-and-procedures-england-and-wales
The Home Office does not hold information on the political affiliation or religious beliefs of those arrested.
Information on prosecutions and convictions is the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice.
Police Powers and Procedures Eng & Wales (PDF Document, 1.14 MB)