THE METROPOLITAN Police last Friday used the opening of the Olympics as an excuse to attack the regular monthly Critical Mass cycle ride around central London.
The police have never liked this event, which has no organisers and no pre-planned route and takes place on the last Friday of each month.
In 2005 they tried to stop them by handing out notices informing participants of the requirement under section 11 of the Public Order Act 1986 to notify the police of the route of any “public procession” – and the criminal consequences of failing to do so.
This notification requirement doesn’t apply to processions “commonly or customarily held” and a legal case that went all the way to the House of Lords established that Critical Mass comes within this exception.
On Friday the police tried again, this time using section 12 of the same Act. This allows a senior police officer to impose restrictions on a public procession if he/she considers the procession might, among other things, result in “serious disruption to the life of the community”.
Relying on this power, the Met banned Critical Mass participants from using the Olympic Route Network or going north of the Thames.
The police kettled one group of cyclists in Stratford, east London and used considerable force to drag cyclists from the bikes. This included one elderly disabled cyclist on a tricycle.