This may be the first time you have been sufficiently motivated to attend a public demonstration. Whatever the cause or issue was that has most concerned you, you should know that British Subjects have a long and honourable history of public protest and that the law allows you to do so.
“ Civil liberties in the United Kingdom have a long and formative history. This is usually considered to have begun with Magna Carta of 1215, a landmark document in British constitutional history. Development of civil liberties advanced in common law and statute law in the 17th and 18th centuries, notably with the Bill of Rights 1689. During the 19th century, working-class people struggled to win the right to vote and join trade unions...”.
In the tradition of Whig history, Judge William Blackstone described "The absolute rights of every Englishman" and explained how they had been established slowly over centuries of English history in his book Commentaries on the Laws of England (1753).They were certain basic rights that all subjects of the English monarch were understood to be entitled to such as those expressed in Magna Carta since 1215, the Petition of Right in 1628, the Habeas Corpus Act 1679 and the Bill of Rights 1689.
“And we have seen that these rights consist, primarily, in the free enjoyment of personal security, of personal liberty, and of private property...To preserve these from violation, it is necessary that the constitution of parliament be supported in its full vigour; and limits, certainly known, be set to the royal prerogative. And, lastly, to vindicate these rights, when actually violated or attacked, the subjects of England are entitled, in the first place, to the regular administration and free course of justice in the courts of law; next, to the right of petitioning the king and parliament for redress of grievances; and, lastly, to the right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defence. And all these rights and liberties it is our birthright to enjoy entire; unless where the laws of our country have laid them under necessary restraints: restraints in themselves so gentle and moderate, as will appear, upon further inquiry, that no man of sense or probity would wish to see them slackened...”.
If you are complaining about the actions, or inactions, of public officials (including police) you are in law “Petitioning the Crown for redress of a grievance” which is a right protected by the common law and acknowledged in Article 5 of the Bill of Rights which can be found online at legislation.gov.uk.
Before a pre planned event, constables of whatever rank will have been reminded of their sworn obligations to both preserve the Queens Peace and to facilitate lawful protests. Lawful in this context means non violent. Police advice if you witness violence or disruption while at an event is to move to a safe distance and tell a police officer as soon as you can.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Public Order Act 1986 was amended (improved) in 2007 with section 27J:
“Protection of freedom of expression
Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system...”.
The Part of the Act that is referred to concerns hatred against persons on religious grounds or grounds of sexual orientation. Note that it specifically protects a “belief system”. This must include belief in the Rights of Englishmen and women who alternatively are a race as well.
If you find that you are subject to action against you by police you should know that resisting physically is not considered to be the best solution. You will have your day in a Court, either answering a criminal charge or making a claim for damages. Do what you can to call the attention of witness to what is happening.
The “privilege against self incrimination” means that you do not have to say anything when cautioned or interviewed. However, refusing to give a constable a satisfactory name and address for service of a summons may be grounds for an arrest or being refused bail.
At the police station if you are in any way vulnerable you are entitled to have an “appropriate adult” to be with you when being processed. They can be a friend or acquaintance but should not be a witness to the incident which led to your arrest. It would be prudent to plan this in advance and exchange contact numbers in written form beforehand.
They are in addition to a “Duty solicitor” whom you may ask to be provided free of cost. A Duty Solicitor may suggest that you make a pre prepared written statement in response to any allegations that have been made against you as an alternative to the risk of answering questions which you may not understand the significance of in an interview.
If you find yourself before a Court you have three options in answer to any charge, “guilty”, “not guilty” or “no case to answer”. If you consider that what you have been accused of was not a crime then “no case to answer” must apply even if the Court at a first hearing does not accept it.
Afterwards, you will find that there is an active community of persons concerned with correcting injustices who may be able to assist you. Many of them will be wearing Yellow Vests.