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Public processions, marches and demonstrations

How to guide public processions

What legal requirements should I be aware of?

There are a few legal requirements that you should be aware of when organising marches and parades in Scotland, these are contained in:

  • Sections 62 – 66 Part 5 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982
  • The Public Order Act 1936 - which forbids people from wearing uniforms signifying association with any banned organisations
  • Public Order Act 1986 – which relates to the powers of Chief Constable during or immediately before a march or parade
  • Terrorism Act 2000 – which relates to being members of or supporting or fundraising for an organisation forbidden by law

The following legal requirements may also apply:

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • The Food Safety Act 1990
  • The Occupiers Liability (Scotland) Act 1960
  • The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003
  • The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 as amended by the Road Traffic (Temporary Restrictions) Act 1991
  • Road Traffic Regulations (Special Events) Act 1994 - for any restrictions which are to be put in place such as closing roads, diversions, signs or traffic cones
  • Road Traffic Act 1964 – covering the powers of the Police
  • Control of Pollution Act 1974

Each procession will be considered on its own individual merits. We will take into account any public disorder, anti social behaviour or damage to property resulting from a procession if notification is received from the organisers for a similar march. Police Scotland will be consulted on all notifications received for a procession.

What other licences will I need?

This will depend on what you are planning to do. If you plan to do any of the following you will need permissions or licences:

Sale of alcohol

If you are going to sell alcohol at your rally you must have an occasional licence. When we receive your application for an occasional licence, we will send a copy of it to Police Scotland. We suggest you contact the Licensing office at the same time as you lodge your notification. The fee for these applications will not be refunded.

Sale of food

If you are going to have a street trader or snack bar at your rally that person will need to have a street trader's licence .  If they already have a street trader's licence they might need to apply for a variation. If they do not hold a licence they will need to apply for a temporary street trader's licence. We suggest you contact the Licensing office at the same time as you lodge your notification. The fee for these applications will not be refunded.

Public charitable collections

If you are going to have a collection during the march or parade you will need to apply for a Public Charitable Collection Permit. This is free of charge.

Other licences you might need could be a temporary public entertainment licence. This would be necessary if you are going to put on entertainment for persons taking part in the rally. The fee for this application will not be refunded.

What else do I need to do when organising a procession?

You are planning to hold a procession you will need to give us 28 days notice, except in circumstances when this period of notice would not be possible (for example if you want to arrange a procession in relation to a recent decision or announcement such as a factory closure).

We suggest you contact the Licensing office as soon as you know the date of the proposed march or parade, especially if there might be similar processions.

If you grant my licence will there be conditions I have to meet?

Yes, you must meet the following conditions:

  • Conditions for parades and processions
  • Code of conduct for parades and processions

Can anyone objection to my application?

Once you submit the application, anyone who wants to object to your application can contact the licensing office within 14 days. If the person is on the 'Opt In' list then a notification of the march or parade will be sent out to them when application is received.

What happens next?

We will consider your application and all the relevant comments or objections and if it relates to public safety, public order, damage to property, disruption to community life and if the procession would place a burden on the Police.

What guidance should I give participants?

Participants must meet the following conditions:

  • Conditions for parades and processions
  • Code of conduct for parades and processions

You need to make sure that all participants have been informed of any changes to the procession, for example, change to timing or route.

What should I do if the procession is cancelled?

You must notify the Licensing office and Police Scotland, as soon as you know the parade has been cancelled.