Freedom of information request reference no: 01.FOI.19.012667

I note you seek access to the following information:

Please can you provide details of police estimates of attendance at any marches, protests or static demonstrations that took place under sections 11(1) and 11(3) of the Public Order Act 1986 since January 2019?

Decision

I have today decided to disclose the located information to you in full.

Please find below information pursuant to your request above.

The MPS no longer publish estimated crowd numbers unless in very exceptional circumstances. Protest numbers are extremely hard to accurately judge and figures can vary significantly and are very subjective. The MPS does not have the expertise to accurately make these estimations and consequently do not disclose numbers in relation to any event. Where records of estimated numbers are made these will be held as police intelligence and not disclosable under the FOIA scheme.

The “harm” that publishing these numbers creates is -

  • Crowd numbers are often linked to serious disruption and therefore linked to court cases and judicial review of our actions in terms of the POA (Sec 12/14)
    – Our estimates may end up undermining criminal and legal cases linked to use of police tactics and legislation.
  • It can encourage groups to increase their turn out and create risk to future events.
  • It is police intelligence to help inform future events

Here is an FOI document taken from the MPS Disclosure Log regarding a response to a similar request for information:

https://www.met.police.uk/SysSiteAssets/foi-media/metropolitan-police/disclosure_2017/august_2017/information-rights-unit---mpss-policy-on-recordingestimating-crowd-numbers-at-a-demonstration-both-before-and-during-the-event

See the MPS Disclosure log