Arrestee and Legal Support

Legal guidance - going on a protest

Legal guidance - going on a protest

Know Your Rights

Where possible our Legal Support team will deliver a Know Your Rights training either in person or via zoom. However as this is not always possible, we have collated key information within the guide below

https://informeddissent.info/knowyourrights

If you would like to arrange a Know Your Rights training session please contact Legal Support on xr-legal@riseup.net This may not always be possible and is dependent on the teams capacity

Legal guidance - going on a protest

Five key messages

See https://informeddissent.info/5-key-messages for information.

Legal guidance - going on a protest

Witnessing an arrest

Anyone engaging in Non-Violent Direct Action or other forms of protest can be arrested. It is all at the discretion of police officers who must of course have a reasonable suspicion that you are committing, have committed or are going to commit an arrestable offence. Read our guide below for information on witnessing an arrest and download a witnessing arrest card here

https://informeddissent.info/witnessing-an-arrest

Legal guidance - going on a protest

Witnessing a stop and search

When attending a protest it is important to be prepared to witness, or even be subject to, a stop and search. Read the below guide for information on your rights

https://informeddissent.info/witnessing-a-stop-and-search

https://informeddissent.info/stop-and-search-card

Legal guidance - going on a protest

Bustcards - what they are and what they provide

Bustcards are printed cards that provide key information in the event of an arrest at a protest. Printed bustcards are often handed out at protests by stewards or legal observers, however individuals are encouraged to have a copy just in case, particularly if you are considering arrest. Please use the link below to access the latest bustcards, which vary by location.

https://informeddissent.info/bustcard

If you are organising an action and think you need a specific bustcard, please contact Legal Support on xr-legal@riseup.net

Legal guidance - going on a protest

Civil law - injunctions

Some actions may carry the additional risk of breaching an injunction. For information on injunctions please read the below guide: https://informeddissent.info/injunctions

Considering an arrest

There is no such thing as an 'unarrestable offence'. This is something we should all know when participating in a protest. But, as we also know, knowledge is power. Being well equipped with the knowledge of your rights and duties in regards to yourself and others you will be better off than going into a possibly 'arrestable' situation blind.

Considering an arrest

Implications of arrest

When considering arrest it is important to think very carefully about the implications arrest can have on your future. Please review the below pages where the most likely, and most serious, implications are highlighted.

Financial implications:https://informeddissent.info/financial-implications

Travelling: https://informeddissent.info/arrestedtravellingabroad

Immigration implications:https://informeddissent.info/immigration-status more detailed information at https://informeddissent.info/arrestandimmigrationstatus

DBS checks: https://informeddissent.info/dbs-check

Considering an arrest

Multiple arrests

If you have already been arrested, you might be wondering what the impact of another arrest will be. Our guide below provides further information
https://informeddissent.info/multiple-arrests

Considering an arrest

Process of arrest

Arrest flowchart: https://informeddissent.info/arrest-flowchart

The arrest process in detail: https://informeddissent.info/being-arrested

Considering an arrest

Serious Disruption Prevention Orders

A serious disruption prevention order (SDPO) is a new order which allows courts to place requirements or restrictions on an individual which the court considers necessary to prevent serious disruption. Please read our guide below for further information on SDPOs

https://informeddissent.info/SDPOs

Considering an arrest

Under 18s and vulnerable adults

If you are under 18, considered a vulnerable adult, or have any learning disabilities or mental health conditions your might require an appropriate adult during your time in custody.Please see the following link for further information
https://informeddissent.info/minors-and-learning-difficulties-and-mental-health

Considering an arrest

Regional Arrestee Support Coordinators

Regional XR Arrestee Support Coordinators encourage and support rebels in their regions and within associated XR groupings, to embed Arrestee Support into Action Planning. We aim to prepare local rebels whose activities may risk arrest and to help to keep rebels safe and looked after when they are detained and charged. While activities of Regional Arrestee Support Coordinators vary across regions and within associated groupings, typically, we:

During national Rebellions, some regions provide a “Back Office” helpline that keeps track of arrestees and organises local police station support volunteers to meet arrestees upon release, providing practical and psychological support. Often, Regional Arrestee Support Coordinators will supply and distribute printed “bust cards” and other information at national, regional, or local actions. Some Regional Coordinators arrange and provide Court Support for rebels prosecuted within their regions.

Regional Arrestee Support Coordinators often also serve as or meet with local Arrestee Support contacts to share learnings and coordinate Arrestee Support across regions. We have direct links to several parts of the central XR Arrestee Support apparatus and regularly contribute to Arrestee & Legal Support meetings and projects. So, if a rebel has an urgent question or concern about some aspect of Arrestee Support and can’t get an answer, we can usually track down the information you need or connect you with someone who will assist you. We meet monthly to share updates, exchange ideas and fast track regional querries.

Post arrest support

Post arrest support

Arrest welfare

Arrest Welfare Team: Contact: XR-ArrestWelfare@protonmail.com

We will do our best to support you through the post arrest process. Here is a list of what is available from our team. Please always get in touch with us about any of these, or if you ever need any other help, information or advice. And be sure to let us know straightaway if you are charged so that we can send you additional information and contacts..

Personal and individual telephone support - Telephone supporters are available through our Post Arrest Liaison (PAL) network and will provide a sympathetic and practical ear. They can introduce you to relevant resources and provide a supportive link to the XR arrest support network. They can give support following arrest, and throughout the court process to the end of the trial. So do let us know if you would like someone to give you a call,

Trained Emotional Support Network – The TESN team offers further emotional support, by trained practitioners, free of charge, to any rebel who is in need of it. If this is something you would like to take up please contact them direct at tesn@tesn.uk

Defendants peer to peer chat groups - XR Legal have set up an email group for charged defendants who are self representing. Please e-mail xr-legal@riseup.net if you'd like to be added to this group.

XR Charged Defendants chat groups on Mattermost and on Telegram - Many rebels find these a helpful source of information, support and contacts. If you have been charged and you would like to be added, please get in touch with us.

Plea Hearing and Trial Support for London based trials - and increasingly across the Regions. We will ensure that defendants have supporters either in person or by phone to provide practical and emotional support throughout the process. Please make sure we know about your court dates so that we can arrange this.

Defendants' Travel expenses - Follow this link to reclaim money spent on court related travel. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1UrCFxL5FezN4OVRY09Tw96VXSSWSdBlrERZbikwmmFA

We work closely with the Legal Support Team. Most importantly, Funded Support is available to everyone who is charged. Please be sure to check out the information in this toolkit on Financial support for charged rebels. The legal support team can be contacted direct at xr-legal@riseup.net and there is a wealth of useful information on the Informed Dissent website https://informeddissent.info/

Data and contact issues - We will be in touch intermittently by email with updates. Please let us know if you do not want to be contacted. If you do not want your details kept on our database just let us know. This will mean we will not be able to be in touch with you directly to offer support but you can of course still get in touch with us.

Post arrest support

Court process

For an outline of the court process, please refer to the latter half of this arrest flowchart https://informeddissent.info/arrest-flowchart

Magistrates Court

If you are facing trial in a magistrates court, please read the following guide which contains an overview of the court process, important considerations and guidance on how to self represent
https://informeddissent.info/selfrepinmags

A description of the court process from an XR activists perspective can be found here -
https://informeddissent.info/description-of-court-process

Crown Court

If you have a trial in the crown court, the following guide will provide you information on the process of self representing in a crown court trial
https://informeddissent.info/selfreppingcrowncourt

Post arrest support

Financial support for charged rebels

Thanks to generous donations raised through crowdfunding, there is funded support available for charged XR rebels. Please read through the entire page linked below to ensure that you are aware of all the support available and know how to access it
https://informeddissent.info/access2justice

Post arrest support

Pleading guilty or not guilty

Please read this guide for considerations when deciding whether to plead guilty or not guilty
https://informeddissent.info/defendantguidesguiltyornot

When making this decision it is also important to consider the financial costs of pleading guilty or not guilty
https://informeddissent.info/court-finances

Post arrest support

Guidance on self representing

Self representing in a magistrates court:
https://informeddissent.info/selfrepinmags

Self representing in a crown court:
https://informeddissent.info/selfreppingcrowncourt

Post arrest support

Regional Arrestee Support Coordinators

See the page in the Considering Arrest section.

Planning an action?

The majority of the things you need to think about are in the Action Planning book, elsewhere on the Toolkit. However there are two things that are relevant to providing arrestee and legal support at an action. - Legal Observer support - Back Office support

Planning an action?

How to request a Legal Observer for a protest

Many people are worried about the risk of arrest and police intimidation at actions they are planning. Having legal support in place before an action can help people stay safer. There are useful tips around this in the Green and Black Cross guide planning an action

The Independent Legal Observers Network (ILON) may be able to provide legal observers to support your action on the day. To request a legal observer, email ILON and including the following details:

The more notice you can give the better, so please let us know basic details as soon as you start planning to call the demo/protest. A week's notice is ideal. You can contact ILON at legal-observer-network@protonmail.com.

PLEASE NOTE if you are in Scotland, you will need to contact the Scottish Community & Activist Legal Project for support.

Planning an action?

Back Office support for an action

Back Office consists of a group of trained volunteers. The main functions of Back Office during an action are to:

We also liaise with Arrest Welfare so that arrestees can be supported later in their journey, for example with Court Support and financial support.

Most regions are supported by the main Arrestee and Legal Support Back office; East of England has a regional Back Office that can support EofE groups taking local action.

If you are coordinating an action and would like Back Office support we need the following information to help us plan:

For the main Arrestee and Legal Support Back Office, email the information to backoffice@riseup.net.
For East of England regional Back Office email xr-eoe-backoffice@protonmail.com

Volunteering with Arrestee and Legal Support

Volunteering with Arrestee and Legal Support

Back Office

Without a Back Office we wouldn’t know who’d been arrested and therefore which police station they’d been taken to, or be able to offer the arrestee the support they need for the rest of their journey, for example Court Support and financial support. During an action we have people, like you, on rota offering support. The majority of this work is done remotely from home.

Supporting arrestees is an amazing feeling and being a part of Back Office is a way to be directly involved. It’s a great way to take action if you need to work from home or aren’t in a position to put yourself forward for arrest. We will train you and offer you as much support as you need.

The work includes taking calls from arrestees in police stations and rebels on the ground reporting arrests. This information is recorded in a database. We then do call-outs for rebels on the ground to support arrestees from the moment they’re released from the police station. We also take calls from friends and family of arrestees, reports of police misbehaviour and pass on legal questions to the Legal circle.

A&LS Back Office is staffed by volunteers under the supervision of members of the A&LS BO team. The supervisor is known as the Back Office Coordinator and is the volunteers’ point of contact for enquiries during a shift. There are two main volunteer roles:

Volunteering with Arrestee and Legal Support

Police Station Supporters (PSS)

Role of Police Station Supporters (PSSs)

Becoming a PSS

There’s no recruitment process: everyone’s welcome to help with this rewarding task and we can almost always use more supporters. Our arrestees often mention how much they appreciated seeing a friendly face when they emerged from the police station. So please join the relevant police station WhatsApp or Signal group and join in - thank you :o)

Training for PSSs

As well as reading these guidelines, you can watch these videos:

Resources needed by PSSs

Getting involved

Ideally, PSSs will have been able to prepare for the role. In practice, rebels often decide to offer support during a protest, eg when friends are arrested - that’s cool too, and advice and help will be easily accessible, from either fellow supporters or from the Police Station Support Coordinator (PSSC) via the station WhatsApp/Signal group - or otherwise from Back Office.

Call-outs for PSSs are made as needed in XR’s AS WhatsApp groups (see below) and in the WhatsApp/Signal chats associated with the relevant stations.

People intending in advance to offer support are invited to join one of XR’s three AS (Arrestee Support) WhatsApp groups. These are duplicate groups: ideally there’d be a single group but the maximum capacity of a WhatsApp group is less than the number of people we need to accommodate. So please join only one of the groups:

Identify from the Police Station map the stations you can access and join the relevant Station WhatsApp groups in advance. Get to know your local police station and the surrounding area. You’ll most likely have to wait outside the station so plan accordingly. For example:

Police Station (PS) groups

When no arrestees are being held at a Police Station, the settings of the related WhatsApp groups are intended to prevent posts other than by Admins, to avoid spamming. When we know arrestees are on their way, the station will be classified as ‘active’, a call-out will be made, and the group will be opened up so that supporters can respond to the call-out.

A Police Station Support Coordinator (PSSC), based in Back Office, will be associated with each WhatsApp group. The PSSC is responsible for creating a support rota; for liaising with supporters via the group chat; and for providing any information and advice they need.

Please use the group chat for communication with the PSSC where possible, rather than private messages - this can help to avoid confusion on the part of other supporters. In some circumstances, however, you’ll need to exchange confidential information and should do so by private message or phone. In particular arrestees’ names/contact details, and those of their family, should never be posted in the WhatsApp/Signal group.

The headers of some PS groups contain useful information about the station, eg position of exits, accessibility of waiting rooms. If you discover new information during your shift, please let your PSSC know, so that it can be recorded.

Your PSSC is there to help you, so please ask if you need anything.

PSS Shifts

You’ll agree your shift with the PSSC. We aim to ensure continuous cover outside the PS, from around 4h after the first arrest to around 24h after the likely check-in time of the most recent arrestee.

Please try to arrive on time, or let the PSSC know if you’re unavoidably delayed - the supporters before you may need to leave on time and we’ll try to make arrangements to avoid a gap.

We aim to arrange for each PS to have at least two supporters at a time, or sometimes more depending on the number of exits from the station. Occasionally we can only recruit one supporter - if you prefer not to support alone, at all or at some times of the day/night, please let your PSSC know.

At the beginning of your shift, it can be helpful to confirm how many rebels are in custody. Your PSSC may suggest asking at the Custody desk, either by going in or via the outside phone. Officers don’t have to tell you anything. They may ask for the names of the arrestees you’re enquiring about: do not give any information: the arrestee may have decided to withhold their details.

Not everyone using the PS will be associated with XR: other arrestees may be leaving, as will police officers - some not in uniform. Supporters of other arrestees may be waiting; and occasionally there may be members of the press fishing for information about rebels. Without being antisocial, share information with care.

You may able to identify rebels’ lawyers as they leave the station, and can then get useful information about the number of remaining XR arrestees - please pass this on to your PSSC.

Sometimes the Police will tell PSSs that the station is now empty. This might or might not be reliable - you should not accept any information at face value.

If you think the station is empty, inform your PSSC and they will advise you what to do.

If you feel unsafe at any time, please let your PSSC know.

Your point of contact is your PSSC, via the PS group: if they are unresponsive, or you need information they aren’t providing, please contact A&LS Back Office on 07749 335574

Supporting Arrestees

You’ll need to try to identify every arrestee as they’re released, which isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Rebels don’t always have identifiers such as XR logos, and they may not be looking out for you. They may be released from a little-used exit, so it’s important to ensure that the supporters can collectively see all the exits all the time. Officers sometimes give misleading information about the exits used for release: it’s wise not to rely on their ‘helpfulness’.

When you’ve identified an arrestee, remember that they’ve just been locked up for some time and in that situation, different people may want and need different things - so be sensitive, beginning with their emotional needs. Then move on to practical needs, and finally ensure that you elicit the information needed by XR to provide ongoing support.

Information about a rebel’s release is collected in one or two ways: by the PSSs and/or via the on-line form.

If it’s not possible to give them the link, please ask then to contact xr-legal@riseup.net or xr-arrestwelfare@protonmail.com and ask for an on-line copy - these e-mail addresses are shown on the XR website.

Encourage arrestees to write up a statement about what happened at the time of their arrest, while it’s still fresh in their mind. This is particularly important when there are concerns about police behaviour.

Sometimes arrestees are released late at night, and will be unable to get back to base. During a mass resistance, accommodation options may be available - please ask your PSSC.

The 7Fs may help you to remember what to do:

Appropriate Adults

The Police must ensure that a vulnerable person or a minor (under 18) is supported in custody by an Appropriate Adult. We encourage people who intend to get arrested and who need an Appropriate Adult to organize this for themselves, in advance, but sometimes this doesn’t happen. In such a situation, the Police may ask the PSS to help with this role. You can fulfil this role if you wish, ensuring that there’ll be adequate support left outside the PS, but should not feel under pressure to do so. If you become aware that officers are seeking an Appropriate Adult, tell them you’ll consult XR for advice - otherwise, they may recruit someone from local Social Services, which is not always a good option for the arrestee.

PSS Expenses

XR is aware that the role of PSSs implicitly involves expenditure, eg on snacks for arrestees, and the possibility of needing to give money to arrestees for travel. We very much appreciate the generosity of many supporters in freely providing food and drink, and sometimes more, for arrestees. We also recognize that some supporters are unable to contribute financially, and their in-person support is not less valued.

However, XR’s financial position is precarious. We have a limited pot of money that can be used to reimburse PSSs for things like snacks for arrestees; arrestees’ travel (if they have no money and have to ask the PSS to help out); cost of a taxi for a vulnerable arrestee (should be discussed with your PSSC); and PSS travel if travelling beyond a local area (should be discussed with PSSC in advance).

For guidance on what is covered and how to claim, please ask your PSSC.

If you think you may need to make a claim from XR, please ask your PSSC for a link to the claim form; keep receipts where possible and make a claim within 24h, so that XR can keep track of claims and give fair warning if the money is all spent and refunds are no longer possible.

Thank you for your interest in Police Station Supporting! It’s a rewarding role and we hope it will also be fun :)


(last updated 25 March 2022 - Source copy held on Next Cloud at: https://cloud.extinctionrebellion.uk/f/787574 (internal link))

Volunteering with Arrestee and Legal Support

Court supporters

This page is about supporting at plea hearings and at magistrates cout trials. It describes the role of an XR Court Supporter, the preparations needed, court procedures, note-taking at a plea hearing, note-taking at a trial, and sending reports back to Arrestee & Legal Support (ALS) Comms.

The reason we do Court Support is to:

Always respect the privacy and personal space of the defendant(s):

Introduce yourself and your role as court supporter; let them know you are available if they have any questions. Give them time to orient themselves. They may have friends/family with them or may want time to themselves.

If they want to chat, please do, but remember you are there to do a job. Be aware of others in the vicinity: other defendants who might want to approach you; non-XR people (e.g. police) who might overhear information that could compromise the defendant's case.

Do not join discussions between solicitors and defendants unless invited. Don’t make suggestions about how to plead or which defence to use. Discussions between solicitor and defendant are confidential.

If family or friends are accompanying a defendant, they have priority over you. Don’t assume you can join their discussions. If family/friends want to sit in the public gallery and there are not enough seats, do your best to make this possible (people could take turns, or you may need to give up your seat for a while and ask the defendant’s friend to give you a report of what happens while you’re not there). You, as a Court Supporter, do not have a right to be in the public gallery ahead of anyone else (only media and police have that right). Your position must be negotiated.

We do not offer legal opinions or advice. If a qualified person from XR Legal is on hand (either in person or by phone) they may be able to offer such advice. Sometimes a solicitor representing one of the defendants is willing to answer questions from others. Most defendants are making use of XR’s Access to Justice scheme so will have had a discussion with a solicitor before their plea hearing.

Before the hearing/trial

Supplies needed:

At the court building:

You will need to go through airport-style security when you enter the court building, and must take a sip of any drinks you bring with you.

Security is getting stricter and can vary from one court to another. Any item (e.g., XR badges, flags, placards, sharp objects etc) that is not allowed in will be held for you at the security point. You will be given a receipt to collect the item when you leave. Sometimes, XR visitors have had to turn all bags inside out to show everything they have. Frisking of visitors also happens on occasion.

Court sessions normally run from 10am – 1pm and from 2pm – 4pm. Defendants will have been told to arrive at 9.30 am for the morning or 1.30 pm for the afternoon session. You should arrive at these same times.

The list of defendants

The ALS Comms team maintains a database of all arrests and court appearances that are submitted to them from the Rebellion Back Office, Police Station Supporters, arrestees and charged defendants, and from Court Supporters.

The Court Support Coordinator prepares a list of the charged rebels who are due to appear on a specific date/time at a specific court. They may also attach notes to the list and ask you to try to collect contact details or GDPR information that is missing.

Most courts post next day trial and plea hearing information on www.courtserve.net/. Anyone can use CourtServe with a simple registration. This resource shows the daily court lists with names and courtroom numbers. (Caution:The information is not always up to date and complete.)

You will need to compare the XR list you have been given with the court’s list of defendants. The court list is posted on a notice board after the security check point and near the main entrance of the court building. Make a note of the courtroom number and any names that you think may be XR but are not on your list.

Find the courtroom you need and identify the ‘court list officer’ (aka court usher). You may want to identify yourself to them as part of the XR Court Support team. At plea hearings they may ask you to help them identify the XR defendants (or contact them if they don’t turn up on time).

We aim to have two people for each session (morning and afternoon): both to ensure back-up if due to unforeseen circumstances one volunteer is late or is unable to attend, and to collaboratively share the tasks when working together. If it seems that more than one courtroom will be used the number of supporters will be increased if possible.

Court Layout

Court Etiquette

Outside each court room is a waiting area. The courtroom itself is usually locked until shortly before the session begins. When in the public gallery try to position yourself so that you can hear as much as possible. The louvre barrier which is usual in the public gallery can make it difficult to hear. You will also want to have sight of the screen where police body worn video transmissions are shown.

Plea hearings

All defendants should have been sent a “Statement of assets and other financial circumstances” form (MC100). Hopefully, defendants will have come with these forms already filled in. For defendants who are pleading Not Guilty, they will need to complete the Preparation for Effective Trial (PET) form. The A2J solicitor may have already helped their clients with this form. Unrepresented defendants may be able to get help from an XR solicitor if one is present. The Court’s duty solicitor and even the prosecuting attorney have been known to assist self-repping defendants with the PET form on occasion. Court Supporters should not assist with these forms (unless they are from XR Legal).

PET form https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/991117/cm001eng.docx

“Statement of assets and other financial circumstances” form (MC100) which the court will use in setting the level of court costs and fines. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-mc100-make-sure-you-can-pay-your-fine-english

If there is an XR defendant at the plea hearing who is not on your list, use the Template for Plea Hearing Data to record their details. HOWEVER, the defendant does not have to give us any information. You can explain the value of giving us their details (i.e. we can send them helpful information, we can follow their progress through court and link them with legal arguments and other defendants who could benefit from their experience). Ultimately, it is entirely their choice.

If they don’t want to complete the form, you can give them the email address of the ALS Comms Team and tell them to contact that address if they later have a question. (XR-ArrestWelfare@protonmail.com)

Court Proceedings at a Plea Hearing

A District Judge or a panel of 2-3 lay Magistrates presides at the Magistrates Court. It is an expected courtesy that everyone stands when they enter and leave the courtroom. The Judge/Magistrate is addressed as Sir or Madam.

After the preliminaries of establishing the identity of the defendant and details of the charge, a plea of Guilty or Not Guilty is submitted.

Not Guilty.

If the plea of NG is entered, the arrangements are made for the trial. This is not the time for the defendant to explain their actions. This will take place at the trial. The details on the PET form will determine how much time should be allowed for the trial. The date will depend on the availability of a courtroom, and the availability of the witnesses and the defendant.

Court supporters’ notes need to include the NG plea, the trial date(s), trial location and amount of time allocated (e.g. half day starting in the morning or afternoon, or one or more full days). Other details such as the imposition or lifting of bail conditions, name of the solicitor or whether the defendant is representing themself are useful also.

Guilty

When a Guilty plea is entered, the Prosecutor will present the evidence against the defendant. If the Judge decides the evidence is insufficient, they will dismiss the case and the hearing is over. If the Judge is satisfied with the evidence, they will accept the guilty plea and determine the penalty, which is usually a Conditional Discharge for 6 (or more) months, OR a fine. They will also state the amount of the prosecution costs the defendant must pay (for most first offences this is less than £85 plus the mandatory Victim Surcharge (VS) of around £26 (as of July 2022) but the information on the MC100 form may reduce these costs, and previous convictions may increase the costs).

Make a note of the G plea, the penalty, and the prosecution costs (incl VS). On rare occasion an Absolute Discharge may be given. Make a note of anything that seems unusual.

When pleading guilty, defendants are generally allowed to make a verbal statement of mitigation explaining their action (usually for no longer than 5 minutes). These are often very powerful statements and very emotional for the defendants.

‘Non-appearances’.

When a defendant does not turn up at the plea hearing, their case tends to be discussed at the end of the morning or afternoon session. The discussion is between the prosecutor and the Judge/Magistrates after all the other defendants have finished. It is important for a Court Supporter to stay in the courtroom until the very end (i.e. the Judge leaves the room) to make notes of these discussions. The defendants who are not present may have contacted the court to ask for an adjournment for a short period of time, or may have sent in a ‘written plea of guilt’, or may have simply not appeared with no explanation. In this latter case, it is likely the defendant’s guilt will be ‘proved in their absence’ and a more severe penalty will be given.

The other way you may be able to get information about ‘non-appearances’ is from the Court List Officer or the Court Clerk.

Defendants may leave at varying times once their hearing is over. Try to ensure that each defendant is personally thanked and leaves knowing that our good wishes go with them.

Once you are back home again, send your report to the Comms team on XR-ArrestWelfare@protonmail.com. Put “DaisyChain (date) (Name of Court)” in the subject line, (e.g. DaisyChain 1 Dec 2022 Westminster Magistrates), attach your report and write any additional notes in the message.

When your report has been submitted, destroy any hardcopy notes and forms, and delete records from your phone or computer (including from Trash).

Trials

Most of our trials are in the Magistrates Court. Crown Court cases have different procedures and are not covered in this document. Court support coordinators contact defendants prior to the trial to check details, e.g. charge, plea (which is sometimes changed before the trial), court and time of trial (both of which may have changed between the plea hearing and trial). It also allows us to check if a defendant is represented by solicitors or will be self-representing, and if they have had or need legal advice, or need support in attending court, and any other considerations including whether they are happy to have court support. Most defendants respond but some don’t for various reasons. It has to be remembered this is their trial and not an XR action.

On the day of the trial

Defendants and those involved will usually be in the waiting room or might be in a consultation room preparing for the trial. You should not enter the consultation rooms but remain in the waiting room. It is very important to be respectful of defendants, legal representatives, friends, and family. Our intervention can be seen as interference. Sensitivity is important. Court list officers will come in and out to check that defendants and others are in attendance. They may ask why you are attending. Officially you are just a member of the public and it is often best to identify yourself as such, although it can be helpful to identify as XR court support if the defendant has not turned up and you can assist in trying to contact them.

You will have a Trial Observation Form which outlines the information needed. You can write directly into the form but it is worth having additional paper for making notes. Most volunteers find it best to make notes and type them later into the form template which expands as needed.

Court proceedings

The trial begins with the Judge or magistrate briefly outlining the charge, making sure everyone is in court and the defendants are correctly named and have not changed their plea to guilty, which they are able to do at this point. If the defendant still maintains their innocence, the prosecution will put their case to the court. 

The prosecutor will outline the charge(s) and call witnesses, usually the senior police officer and the arresting officer.  The police body worn video will usually be shown. The defence can cross examine (question) the witnesses. 

Next the defence will put their case and call witnesses.  The defendant may be called to the witness stand.  If a defendant is self-representing, they may decide to give evidence from the witness stand.  If they are called or decide to give evidence in the witness stand, this evidence is admissible in the trial and the defendant can be cross-examined by the prosecution. 

There is then a summing up by both the prosecution and the defence. The Judge or Magistrates will usually leave the court to consider the verdict. Finally, the Judge or Magistrates will decide on the case, sum up and state their verdict. 

If the verdict is ‘not guilty’ or ‘case dismissed’, the case is closed and the trial ends.  The defendant can claim for reimbursement of their legal and travel costs.

If the verdict is 'guilty', then the Judge will decide the sentence.  They will ask for the defendant’s financial circumstances before sentencing (Form MC100). The Judge or Magistrates may decide that the sentencing should take place on a different day and/or at a different court.

The contribution toward prosecution costs ranges from £150 - £800 depending on length of trial. This cost can be shared between co-defendants if there are any. A Victim Surcharge will also be added. A Conditional Discharge of 9 months or 12 months is usual. Fines are sometimes imposed instead of the Conditional Discharge, and in cases of criminal damage there may be costs of making good the damage.

If the trial is longer than one day, the observation and note-taking may be shared between 2-3 people. The notes then need to be compiled into one report before being sent to informeddissent@riseup.net (also send a copy to XR-ArrestWelfare@protonmail.com)

After the trial

There might be cause for anger or celebration. Whichever it is, save any emotional outbursts or comment until you are outside the court.

We have a relationship with XR media and you may need/want to be in contact with our photographers or media people and help facilitate publicity. BUT it is important to respect the wishes of the defendant about media involvement.

Write up and send off the trial observation report as soon as possible. These reports are very important and used to enable support and advise legal strategy.


About Data Protection and Security

Love and Gratitude from the Court Support Coordinators (Cristine, Sofia, David)


(Last updated: January 2024)

Volunteering with Arrestee and Legal Support

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Guide to A&LS Back Office for BO volunteers

Note: This document supersedes the document known as the Step-by-Step Guide [sometimes referred to as The Back Office Bible]. It has been written on behalf of the Back Office operated by A&LS, formerly known as ‘Central Back Office’. Regional Back Offices may operate in slightly different ways: please refer to their specific documentation. There is a separate guide for BOCs (Back Office Coordinators) that we hope will also be moved to the Toolkit. Most recent content update: 26 March 2022

Guide to A&LS Back Office for BO volunteers

1. Functions of A&LS Back Office

The main functions are to:

Guide to A&LS Back Office for BO volunteers

2. Structure of Back Office

During a mass action

A&LS Back Office (A&LS BO) is staffed by volunteers under the supervision of members of the A&LS BO team. There are two main volunteer roles:

Normally volunteers take only one of these roles per shift. However, we welcome volunteers willing to be trained for both roles - this enables flexibility, including the possibility of taking both roles simultaneously during quiet shifts.

The supervisor is known as the Back Office Coordinator (BOC), and is volunteers’ point of contact for enquiries during a shift. The BOC will also oversee workflow; ensure an even distribution of responsibilities during the shift; and answer queries.

There may also be access to a Legal Support Line (LSL), staffed by a member of XR Legal Support, to whom enquiries of a legal nature can be referred.

Communication:

Enquiries from volunteers can be made to the Back Office inbox (address in Summary of Key Links section), staffed by a member of the A&LS BO team. Short-term Signal groups are set up in association with specific mass actions, and can also be used for some kinds of enquiry. There are additional ways of communicating while on shift.

Between mass actions

We currently aim to run a 24/7 Back Office service staffed by members of the A&LS BO team, augmented on a short-term basis by volunteers if necessitated by a particular action.
The BO inbox is also staffed throughout the year.

Relationships with regional Arrest Support systems

Vary from region to region. Systems are evolving and there is no general model. Currently this necessitates negotiations with regions from time to time.

Guide to A&LS Back Office for BO volunteers

3. Recruitment

Recruitment is usually carried out intermittently, and will definitely happen in association with mass actions.

Guide to A&LS Back Office for BO volunteers

4. Training

Training mainly comprises videos and documentation, supplemented by live sessions via Zoom.

Written and other online resources

Training videos

Live Training

Live training sessions, via Zoom, are provided in advance of mass actions. These will be publicised widely within XR’s communication channels.

Live sessions may include:

Guide to A&LS Back Office for BO volunteers

5. Security and Data Protection

Volunteers are handling sensitive personal information and are required to confirm that they understand their responsibilities under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This is done by reading and signing XR’s online Volunteer Agreement.

Please sign with the e-mail address you provide to Back Office, to facilitate checks.

Remember that you’ve agreed to protect the privacy of arrestees, and don’t share any of the information you receive with anyone outside Back Office.
Guide to A&LS Back Office for BO volunteers

6. ArrestWatch

This is the database used during and after an action to record information about arrestees, legal observers, and calls associated with the action. Information can be entered manually or, in the case of an arrest or release, via an online form.

The use of the forms and database can be practised using the ArrestWatch playground. The username and password for BOVs and PSSCs respectively are: bov, bovbov; and pssc, psscpssc. Please don’t change these! The arrest report form is at https://playground.arrestwatch.info, and the release form at https://playground.arrestwatch.info/pss.

Manual entries

Online entries

Access

There are three levels of access to the information currently held in ArrestWatch, all access is via login at https://backoffice.arrestwatch.info/login Volunteers will be allocated a login, with the appropriate level of access, after completing the training required by A&LS policy.

Guide to A&LS Back Office for BO volunteers

7. Back Office Volunteer (BOV)

The BOV role: involves taking phone calls via 3CX, an online software-based private branch exchange phone system.
Calls to BO may come from:

BOVs usually work in shifts of 3 or 6 hours, and at busy times several BOVs will be on shift together so the workload will be shared. On-shift support will be available from the Back Office Coordinator (BOC), via either a Signal chat, Zoom calls, or phone calls.

Training involves
The phone system - 3CX

The 3CX phone system is a software-based private branch exchange. 3CX can be accessed via either a smartphone or a PC equipped with speakers and a microphone. Please ensure your equipment will remain charged throughout your shift. Training in the use of 3CX will be provided.

Before your shift

Please ensure you have ready access to relevant documents, Signal groups, and the Zoom call (if operating), and have logged in to 3CX and ArrestWatch. It’s helpful to have kept an eye on the day’s BO Signal group, which will help familiarise you with what’s happening.

During your shift
Calls from LOs

Record the beginning and end of LO shifts, and their location, in the ‘Legal Observers’ tab in ArrestWatch. Create separate entries for coming on and off shift.

Reports of Arrests
Custody Calls
Responding to enquiries from friends and families:

Sometimes we receive calls from rebels asking where their friend or family member has been taken. If they know the name of the rebel, we accept these requests at face value and will try to help them: otherwise, we don’t give out information.

A balance needs to be struck between helping rebels find their friends, and protecting data. If in doubt, discuss any particular request with your BOC before sharing any information. Special care must be taken if ‘famous’ rebels are involved, as press teams may try to take advantage of BO to gain information about the arrest.

ArrestWatch can be searched by arrestee name, though spellings need to match, so you may need to search manually.

Enquiries from friends and family are an opportunity to recruit police station supporters. If they can help, give them the link to the police station map, from which they can join the relevant police station WhatsApp or Signal group.

Calls from rebels after release:

Occasionally we are unable to arrange support at a police station, and rebels contact BO after release:

Calls asking for legal advice

Do not give out legal advice.

Raids:

Occasionally BO gets a phone call for advice from rebels during a Police raid on their premises, and needs a fast response. If the BOC isn’t available immediately, please refer to XR’s Raids handout.

Calls involving other information:

Miscellaneous information might include reports of Police misconduct that you are unable to match with a pre-existing report. Record anything you think may be of relevance in the Call Log in Arrestwatch: reports are created via the ‘Add log’ button and can also be edited.

If information regarding police misconduct or similar is shared, please ask the caller if they would be willing to share their contact details so that they can be contacted later to corroborate the information. In addition, encourage them to write down their own account of the events (to include date and time) as soon as possible, with video evidence if available, and send it to XR Legal at xr-legal@riseup.net.

Each entry or edit in the Call Log should be annotated with the name of the author, and the time of the call. Where possible, entries should also include contact details of the caller.

It may also be appropriate occasionally to use the Log to record actions taken by BOVs/PSSCs, but it should not be necessary to use it routinely for this purpose.

If specific action is needed as a result of an incoming call, such as contacting someone, the person making the entry should take responsibility for that action, by either carrying it out or passing responsibility to someone else (and recording this).

At the end of each shift:
Guide to A&LS Back Office for BO volunteers

8. Police Station Support Coordinator (PSSC)

PSSCs ensure arrested rebels are met on release by Police Station Supporters (PSSs), by creating a rota for supporters and offering them advice and information.

Liaison with PSSs takes place via WhatsApp or Signal groups, and occasionally by phone. Arrestees can be held in custody for 24 hours after being checked in at a police station, so we need to try to ensure supporters are available throughout this period (there is usually a time gap between arrestees arriving at a station and being checked in).

PSSs

Training
Overview of PSSC Tasks
Before your shift
At the beginning of each shift
Creating and maintaining a PSS rota
Communication with PSSs
During your shift
Eliciting information about arrestees via PSSs
Appropriate Adults
When an arrestee can be held for more than 24h

In certain circumstances, an arrestee can legitimately be held by the Police for more than 24h. Sometimes the BOC may have had, or be able to get, information via the solicitor network, and should tell any PSSCs looking after the stations involved. Circumstances in which arrestees can be held longer than 24h include:

If you think there’s a possibility that a rebel may be going to be held for court (eg if it appears from the arrest report that they may have broken bail conditions), let the BOC know and they may be able to investigate.

PSS Expenses
At the end of each shift
Guide to A&LS Back Office for BO volunteers

Summary of Key Links

Software

Documents

Videos