Pay to protest?

Did you know: by law, you must tell the police if you are organising a public march. You need to let them know six days beforehand. This helps the police keep everyone safe and close roads if they need to. The police can limit or change the route of the march to ensure the safety of the public.


In 2015, the Metropolitan police (which covers London) announced that people organising protest marches might need to pay the policing costs themselves - read the story here. It caused a lot of debate!

To help get you thinking about this, here's a short one page-script (set outside of covid-times). There are two characters - so you might want to read it out loud with a partner!

After you've read it, have a go at the questions below.

  1. Who do you find yourself agreeing with more - the protestor, or the police constable? Why?
  2. Do we have a right to protest for free? Why/why not?
  3. If the protest is against a government decision, should the government have to pay for the protest?
  4. What could be the benefits and risks of protestors having to cover policing costs themselves?

Comments (17)

  • Hammond School logo analytical_sea | Hammond Junior School F
    18 Jan 2021

    Question 1 answer: I don't really know - why should the protester have to pay to stand up for their beliefs? That's like paying to go into a mosque, or a church. But on the other hand, the police need paying for doing there job, in this case patrolling the protest - who's going to provide the money?

    Question 2 answer: These are some real thinking questions XD! I think we have the right to protest for free, but we should have to pay for things like signs and face painting (?) for example. But then, linking to Question 1, the police patrolling need to be payed for doing there job!

    Question 3 answer: Yes, maybe they should, that's a good idea, but I don't think the government would want to pay for a protest they are against?! That's like a mortgage business sponsoring a we'll-help-you-become-mortgage-free type company. Just wrong XD.

    Question 4 answer: A benefit is that the tax payers don't have to pay for the police to do the protests, when they are earning money which they have the right to spend. I'm not sure about a risk.

    Thanks! analytical_sea XX

    Reply to this comment
    1. tom Tom @ the BNC
      analytical_sea's comment 18 Jan 2021

      You've clearly thought hard about some of these! On question 2, where do you think that money should come from? The government or the protesters?

      Reply to this comment
      1. Hammond School logo analytical_sea | Hammond Junior School F
        Tom @ the BNC's comment 18 Jan 2021

        The money to pay the police? The government - I mean they're meant to have LOADS of money aren't they? And thank you SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much for giving me a star!!! My first ever!! OMG!

        Reply to this comment
        1. tom Tom @ the BNC
          analytical_sea's comment 18 Jan 2021

          The government have to spend their money in a balanced way, remember. They may have lots of money through taxpayers but they are responsible for education, healthcare, welfare, transport - and so much more! Do you think paying to police protests is something they should be responsible for?

          Reply to this comment
          1. Hammond School logo analytical_sea | Hammond Junior School F
            Tom @ the BNC's comment 18 Jan 2021

            Hmmmmm... Well, I defiantly don't think the protester should pay either way.

            Reply to this comment
  • Michael-Faraday-logo-250x250.jpg decisive_redcurrant | Michael Faraday School
    18 Jan 2021

    Sorry i sent my question in early here are the proper ones
    My first question is
    1. As I said in one of my posts I said that you have to go and ask the government or the police to protest but I never knew you had to pay for it but my question is why would you go and do that if the police are probably going to end up closing about your protest!?
    Question 2
    2. I know this question might sound weird but even if you’re paying the police/Government and let’s say during a protest one of your protesters accidental damage something would you and the government use your money to repair that damage then wouldn’t that be the same as tax!?
    Question 3
    3. Yes you said that you have to go and inform the police six days beforehand telling them that you want to protest and you also said that Police are there to keep you safe then why did they end up using such things like teargas, shields and other powerful resources!?
    Question 4
    I would find myself agreeing with you more protesters as protesters that done your protest might have the same mindset of what you think on that situation but my question is why do some police end up agreeing with the protesters and themselves!? Such as the BLM protest I was watching a video and. These police officers decided to take down the knee but shouldn’t of them Be doing there job and not agreeing with the protesters!?
    Hope you can respond to my questions!
    Decisive_redcurrant

    Reply to this comment
    1. Olivia-Avatar.jpg Olivia @ the BNC
      decisive_redcurrant's comment 19 Jan 2021

      These are excellent questions and show great curiosity and creativity! I wonder if you can research any of the answers elsewhere. .

      Reply to this comment
  • Upton-Cross-logo-250x250.jpg discreet_drum | Upton Cross Primary School
    18 Jan 2021

    Question1; I agree with the protester because everything he said was right, he shouldn’t have to pay to stand up for what he believes in and it is in his right.
    I also agree when he said ‘But isn’t that the point of the police,’ to protect us?! We shouldn’t have to pay for our protection’. This is why I agree with the protester.

    Question 2; Yes, protesting should be free.
    Because it would be impossible to protest unless you have the rich people supporting you. It’s very important to protest to show the government, the level of concern people have about certain issues and to express those opinions. Protesting is important in how democracy works, as again it allows people to voice out their matters of issues.

    Question 3; I think that the government should pay for it because the right to protest is how democracy works so the government has to pay to keep people safe and to help in the organisation of a protest.

    Whether or not the government is happy to pay for protests, they know that they still have to pay.

    Question 4; I agree with analytical_sea that the benefit is that taxpayers don’t have to pay the police to organise a protest. A risk could be that there would be many more illegal protests so the police might try and stop them which would make protests dangerous.

    Reply to this comment
    1. Olivia-Avatar.jpg Olivia @ the BNC
      discreet_drum's comment 19 Jan 2021

      These answers are brilliant - they show great listening and speaking. You have carefully considered the script and its implications. Well done!
      Should protest be in all circumstances, or is there a point at which you would draw the line? For example, if a very stretched police force had to spend £1million on a protest and deploy a large number of their officers, would you still support the free protest?

      Reply to this comment
  • Preston Manor School neat_situation | Preston Manor School
    19 Jan 2021

    1) I believe that you should alert the police that your going to be protesting because anything could go wrong or out of hand. Safety comes first.
    2 ) Yes, if anyone has something to say the say it. Your voice should not cost a penny.
    3) Yes the goverment should pay, because you dont agree with what they settled with.
    4) Getting into fights, solving the problem, start a riot

    Reply to this comment
  • Cheam Park logo eager_reflection | Cheam Park Farm Primary
    19 Jan 2021

    eager_reflection here,
    I'll be answering the questions above.

    1. Who do you find yourself agreeing with more - the protestor, or the police constable? Why?
    I think that I find myself agreeing with the protester more. This is because I think that the protester shouldn't have to pay to police the protest because tax payers already pay for police. Also, some people could not be able to afford having a protest but they still want their voices to be heard. Just because someone doesn't have enough money doesn't mean their views are not allowed to be heard. I also think that it depends on what kind of protest, and the organisers should inform the police that they are protesting before they protest, but should pay after the protest. This way, if the police find out that the protest is violent, they should make the organisers pay more than if they were doing a peaceful protest. On the other hand, the police should get the money because they are helping to protect the people. A protest also can block the roads, causing nuisance to others.

    2. Do we have a right to protest for free? Why/why not?
    I think that we do have a right to protest for free. This is because I don't think that people should pay extra for the police. The role of the police is to protect all citizens and because we are lucky enough to live in a democratised society we should have the right to protest. Also, protesters just want to get their voices heard so why should they pay for that? In my view, the government should pay for all protests.

    3. If the protest is against a government decision, should the government have to pay for the protest?
    I think that the government should pay for all protests, as I mentioned above, because I don't think it's fair the government should not let people protest just because they don't agree. After all, it was the people who voted for them that gave them the power to govern. They wouldn't be giving them a chance for the protesters to share their views. They could even change their mind about the protest afterwards. On the other hand, I think that they don't want to pay for it because they think the protest is a bad idea.

    4. What could be the benefits and risks of protestors having to cover policing costs themselves?
    I think that a benefit of them having to cover policing costs themselves is that they are still allowed to protest, and the government could agree with them eventually, so they get their desired goal. If not, organisers cannot protest and therefore cannot get their voice heard. A risk is that the protest could not work, and therefore they would have spent the money but did not succeed, but at least they tried. Another risk is that they may not be able to afford to protest.
    Thanks for reading.

    Reply to this comment
    1. katie.jpg Katie @ the BNC
      eager_reflection's comment 20 Jan 2021

      Great ideas, eager_reflection. Do you think protests would be more or less peaceful if protesters had to pay for the police themselves? Why?

      Reply to this comment
      1. Cheam Park logo eager_reflection | Cheam Park Farm Primary
        Katie @ the BNC's comment 20 Jan 2021

        Hi Katie,
        In my opinion, I think that protests will be more peaceful if protesters had to pay for police themselves because the organisers will try to ensure protesters that participate should protest peacefully or they could be fined by the police and could be arrested. However, the organisers cannot guarantee who will turn up to join their protest and that could be a problem. Each time they protest it will cost the organisers money for the police so they will want the protest to be successful, and I don't think that violence is the way to solve their issues.

        Reply to this comment
  • Faringdon-logo-250x250.jpg careful_science | Faringdon Community College
    25 Jan 2021

    Dear BNC,

    Question 1 answer: In my opinion, both sides have valid arguments as because they will be having protests and marches, which will cost the police money for something they don't want or organised, the police will be trying to think of a different solution to sort this problem. They obviously thought that the best way to keep the public safe and to keep funds in the bank, was to make the people who DID want the march to happen could pay for it instead. On the other hand, the people have a right to protest and it could be said that the police could easily afford the policing costs (especially in the City's of London and Westminster) and that they were only doing it to discourage the protests, but that is just a thought or conspiracy with no proper evidence to back that claim up. In conclusion, I would personally agree with the police in this situation.

    Question 2 answer: Well, yes legally (as I said above) we all have the right to protest, but if I was to dive deeper and see if I personally think that we all have the right to protest I would say yes but there has to be a line between protests and riots. I made sure to say that, as at the start of January, there was a 'protest' in the states where -to cut a long story short- they all broke into the senate and committed domestic terroristic acts, and it was argued that it was not a protest but a riot. So in the end, yes I think we should all have the right to protest, but it has to be peaceful (both on the protesters part and the police's).

    Question 3 answer: Yes. I do think that it would make perfect sense for that to happen because (as you can see in question 2) I think that everybody has the right to protest and demonstrate there views and make there voices heard. I also think that as we are a democracy, if the government makes a decision, they have to know the consequences for if it is the wrong decision and the public think so. They would also HAVE to discuss this matter in the house if there is a protest so that they can come to a conclusion.

    Question 4 answer: Well, to cut straight to the point, I think that the benefits would be: Make sure that the protest is important enough for the people to fund it, Help the costs and take some of the burden/strain off the metropolitan police and it would make it harder for a riot to break out due to the fact that the police are not having to strain and push there resources to the limit due to the fact that they would have more money. I wouldn't really call anything a risk as such but more of just a disadvantage. I would say that the disadvantages would be: Make sure that everybody who don't have enough money to afford to pay for protests can still pay for the protests and it would stop conspiracies going around that will just cause more protests slowing making not only a massive PR disaster but also a massive economic problem and loads more problems.

    Anyway, that you for reading my comment, it was a slightly more beefy one this time and I hope you enjoyed,
    -careful_science

    Reply to this comment
    1. tom Tom @ the BNC
      careful_science's comment 25 Jan 2021

      Terrific answers, careful_science! You said the government have to know the consequences of a wrong decision - how is this decided? If the public disagree with a decision, does that mean it's always wrong?

      Reply to this comment
  • Hammond School logo super_chicken | Hammond Junior School B
    29 Jan 2021

    Dear BNC,
    Question 1 answer: In my opinion, I agree with the protestor the most because as he/she said, it is the police's job to keep everyone safe and it is unfair to make someone pay for them to do their job. Some people who stand up for a protest might not be able to pay for it because they do not have enough money but also want their voices to be heard which is unfair.

    Question 2 answer: Well, yes and no, first, no because all people want to do when they protest is to get their voices heard but paying for people to hear others opinions sounds unacceptable. Also yes because the streets must be cleared when they are doing it because it might cause a bit of damage with a lot of people walking on the streets with board in their hand because they might trample over something or their signs might hit something and that will cost money to repair.

    Question 3: I think that the government should pay for every protest because everybody is entitle to their opinion. It is also unfair to not pay for a protest because they do not like what they are protesting about.

    Question 4:I agree with discreet_drum and analytical_sea that tax payers do not have to pay the police to do the protests. I am unsure of any risks.

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