Legal Info - Extinction Rebellion UK (2024)

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Before attending an action, it’s crucial that all rebels inform themselves about their rights as protesters and the possible consequences of arrest.

It is good to understand our protest rights.

Please see our website for the best Legal Resources.

Search the menus to find:
Legal briefing / Bustcards / Stop and search cards / Raids leaflet / How to witness arrest / Security and phones info

Remember the 5 key messages:
No comment! No personal details! Under what power? No duty solicitor. No caution.

The Backoffice Number is 07749 335574

Whilst our street actions are exciting and eye-catchy, XR also has a legal strategy for rebels who get arrested at our actions and go to court. If the courts keep hearing the same message from us, that message will get through and more people will demand the urgent and radical action that is required.

Below you can download our legal briefing and strategy documents or find answers to some frequently asked legal questions.


Legal Briefing Quick Guide Legal Support Briefing Booklet Legal Strategy 1: Overview Legal Strategy 2: Climate Emergency Public Information Legal Strategy 4: Example Skeleton Argument Legal Strategy 5: Example Witness Statement / Climate Annexe Legal Strategy 6: Example Exhibit Legal Strategy 7: Key Legal References to Support a Defence Legal Strategy 8: Young People, School Strikes and Non-Violent Direct Action – Legal Context Legal Strategy 9: Contempt of Court Legal Strategy 10: Template Response to Legal Queries


Is there a quick legal intro I can read to help me prepare for action days?

Yes, have a look at our lovely Legal Briefing Quick Guide. Or our Legal Support Briefing Booklet provides more information.

What happens during an arrest?

You should be told why you are being arrestedand the name or number of the arresting officer. You should ask what station you are being taken to although at large protests, the police officers do not always know.

You can be handcuffed.You will be searched– usually just a ‘pat down’ by an officer of the same sex as you. The police are only allowed to strip search you if there is good reason to believe that you are concealing an item such as a weapon or evidence or drugs.

You will be taken to the police station.This may be individually, or you may be taken along with other arrestees. At mass arrests in the past, the police have used buses for multiple arrestees, and there have been very long waits before arrival at the police station.

It’s important to note, however, that the police don’t always do what they are supposed to do.

What happens at the police station?

When you arrive, you will be ‘processed’ and asked a lot of questions at the custody desk of the police station. Here, it is advisable to give yourname, date of birth and address– otherwise, they can hold you in the police station until you go to court which, in the worst case, could mean that you got arrested on Friday night but will only be able to go to court on Monday morning.

You DO NOT need to give yournationalityat the police station.

[Please note: previous versions of this page referred to a legal requirement to confirm your nationality upon arrest, however at the time of writing this legislation has not come into force (25/08/2020).]

The only other question that you may not want to answer with “no comment” is the question of yourmental health; if you don’t have any mental health issues, you may want to say so as otherwise, the police will have to check your cell every half hour or so.

If you do have mental health issues then you might want anappropriate adult, in which case you will need to answer “yes” to this question.

If you know that you will need to take medication whilst held at the station, bring an unopened package of your medication and your prescription with you. You can also ask for a doctor at any time.

Police can take yourfingerprints, DNA and pictures. There are certain exceptions to this rule which are if you were arrested for Obstruction of the Highway or Breach of the Peace in which case you can refuse to give this information.

All your possessions will be taken off you. You can ask to be allowed to take yourbookwith you into your cell, often that will be granted. You can also ask for a copy of the PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Act) regulations to read which covers your rights.

Once you’re in the police cell, you have a right to the following things:

  • Regular meals (if needed, vegan, gluten free etc)
  • Water, tea or coffee at meal times, and maybe more often if you ask nicely
  • Jumper, blanket and pillow if you’re freezing
  • Light to be dimmed if you want to sleep

You have a right to free legal advice once you’ve been arrested. Don’t use the duty solicitor but use one of these recommended protest solicitors:

  • Hodge Jones Allen (HJA): 0800 437 0322
  • Irvine Thanvi Natas (ITN): 020 8522 7707
  • Bindmans: 020 7305 5638
  • Kellys (outside London): 01273 674 898

A solicitor from the requested practice should come to the police station and you can have a one-to- one chat with them. However, don’t rely on it being private, it may be monitored. Make sure not to say anything incriminating while you’re under arrest.

Often, you will be asked to do apolice station interview. We advise you don’t do it without your solicitor being present.

You also have a right to aphone call. You can call anyone, from friends, relatives to your affinity group’s welfare person. This is your chance to make sure that the relevant people know where you are being held so that the arrestee support team can come and pick you up after you’ve been released. During the week of rebellion, you cancall the back office on 07749 335574to make sure somebody knows of your arrest and where you have been brought.

The police can hold you for a maximum of24 hoursunless they get authorisation from a superior officer to keep you for longer. Very often, arrestees are released in the middle of the night so plan for that scenario (e.g. make sure you don’t need to work the following day). The arrestee support team will be waiting for you (hopefully) with some snacks and warm drinks. During the week of rebellion, you can call the back office if no one is waiting for you to find out how to get back to your accommodation etc. Here, it also becomes important that you have some cash with you so you can get home safely – make sure you know your address by heart! Sometimes, some of your property will be kept as evidence.

Will I get a criminal record?

Criminal records are not straightforward and vary greatly from individual to individual. If someone wants to view your criminal record, you need to go through a DBS Check. There are regular DBS checks – a lot of minor offenses like Obstruction of the Highway will stop to show up on a regular DBS check some time after your conviction. However, there are also Enhanced DBS checks. If you work with children, vulnerable adults, in the legal professions or in the police force, your employer will usually ask you for an Enhanced DBS Check. In theory, any charges that you have ever been found guilty for and even arrests can show up on an Enhanced DBS check at the discretion of the Chief Officer of the relevant police force. In practice, that is very rarely the case and many cases are known when convictions for minor crimes did not show up on Enhanced DBS checks. So it is very difficult to make any generalisations. If you think that you are likely to be charged with a certain offense in the future, it is up to you to do some research on how these offenses could show up on your criminal record.

It is important to start thinking about how a criminal record will affect you individually at an early stage. You can be asked for a DBS check when you apply for visa for certain countries, for insurance, for certain jobs, to educational institutions, and to stay in the UK either on a visa or as an EU national. However, just because you have a criminal record doesn’t necessarily mean that this record will stop you from e.g. getting a job, especially if you are given the chance to explain the circ*mstances of your arrest to your employer.

For more information, please read the fulllegal briefing.

Can I travel abroad with a criminal record?

If your destination country requires a visa, you will have to disclose your conviction on the form, and different countries have different attitudes to different offences. Travel to the USA and Israel might be difficult. For visa-free travel (including, hopefully, the EU after Brexit) there should be no problem, although confirmation from the relevant embassy might be wise.

For more information, please read the fulllegal briefing.

Does it make a difference if I’m arrested multiple time?

If you have repeated arrests or convictions, especially for the same or similar offences, you are more likely to be charged as the police and prosecutors consider there is a greater “public interest” in prosecuting you.

If you are arrested after you have appeared in court for a previous offence when the case for that previous offence is ongoing, then sentencing for the previous offence may be harsher. You may also be kept in remand (jailed for the period of the trial) if the new offence is charged.

If you have a criminal record, you are likely to get a heavier sentence if convicted of a new offence. You are also likely to receive a higher sentence for offences you commit while you are on bail following other arrests.

If you received a conditional discharge for the first offence, you could be re-sentenced and given the maximum sentence for that offence if you breach the conditional discharge by committing a second offence.

Will getting arrested be expensive?

The process of arrest itself should not cost you anything (potentially loss of earnings if you can’t work the next day or are held for longer than 24hrs), legal representation from the recommended solicitors is free (see “What Happens at the Police Station?”). However, being charged with an offence can become very expensive. There are lots of potential costs to think about which include court costs, legal representation, victim surcharge, damages, civil liability and court fines. Travel to court can also be expensive as you will have to travel a few times to the court in the vicinity of your arrest.

XR don’t pay for costs of any kind with the exception of travel to court in cases of exceptional financial hardship. However, we encourage affinity/local groups to support their arrestees by making crowdfunder pages to help cover costs. Please exercise caution when describing the crowdfunder. ‘XR Local Group Costs’ would be fine, but not ‘Help pay XR Court fine’, for example.

For more information, please read the fulllegal briefing.

What might I get arrested for and what are the potential sentences?

Arrest is only the first step in a process and most arrests are not taken any further – in the past approx.. 10% of people who were arrested at XR protests were charged. Often for a first-time minor offence committed at a protest, the sentence will be a fine of £100-200 or less and a conditional discharge. It is important to note that if you are arrested multiple times then you could easily begin to incur the maximum sentencing.

Public Nuisance has begun to be used by the police against protesters relatively recently. It can be tried in either the Magistrates or the Crown Court (it is known as an “either way” offence). What we do know is that there is a risk of higher sentences and expensive and lengthy court cases that last weeks.

If you want to lower the risk of public nuisance being used against you, then you might want to think about the following options: leave an action if police are present; don’t take a role where you look like you are organising; try to be seen to minimise the impact on the public. You can always watch from a safe distance until the coast is clear and then rejoin. Although the risk can be minimised, arrest for Public Nuisance on protest actions remains a current possibility and so it’s about making informed choices.

Read more aboutcommon offencesandlaws affecting anti-fracking protestors.

Read more aboutmaximum sentences for common offences.

Does Extinction Rebellion have a legal strategy?


The legal strategy documents aim to provide you with an overview of how we can turn the criminal justice process (from arrest to prosecution) into an opportunity to advance our strategic objectives – in particular by raising public and political awareness of the climate emergency. While we also refer to some of the risks of action, these documents are not a substitute for legal advice. Even if you choose to represent yourself at the trial, it’s usually a good idea to take independent legal advice. In the Downloads section above there are links to a series of documents we are developing that can help you to support our strategic objectives through the legal process if that’s what you decide you want to do – both when self-representing and when working with an experienced sympathetic solicitor.

Legal Info - Extinction Rebellion UK (2024)


What are the three demands of XR? ›

XR's three core demands remain the same: Tell the Truth, Act Now, and Decide Together.

Who is funding the Extinction Rebellion? ›

No, Extinction Rebellion is a movement. It receives practical support from a company called Compassionate Revolution which processes donations and spends them to support the movement.

What were the sentences for the Extinction Rebellion? ›

Hallam and Maxey were each sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for 18 months. Lynch-White was handed a 17 month sentence, suspended for 18 months.

Is Extinction Rebellion UK based? ›

Extinction Rebellion (abbreviated as XR) is a UK-founded global environmental movement, with the stated aim of using nonviolent civil disobedience to compel government action to avoid tipping points in the climate system, biodiversity loss, and the risk of social and ecological collapse.

What were the three demands? ›

Lenin had three demands: First, he declared that the war be brought to an end; second, he wanted the lands to be transferred to the peasants; third, the banks had to be nationalised. These three demands were known as Lenin's April Theses.

Can anyone join Extinction Rebellion? ›

We need you – whoever you are, however much time you have – to help build a powerful movement. Our vision of change involves mass participation.

Did Getty Oil fund just stop oil? ›

The Climate Emergency Fund was started with funding from heiress Aileen Getty, the granddaughter of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, who said in an op-ed for The Guardian she was proud to support Just Stop Oil.

How many people are involved with Extinction Rebellion? ›

It is estimated that some 250,000 people in more than 1,000 groups across 75 nations are a part of Extinction Rebellion today. Clare Farrell, co-founder of XR, called on people everywhere to join the rebellion and “rise in peace to fight the greatest crime against humanity”, as time is of the essence.

What is the slogan of the Extinction Rebellion? ›

Rebel for life. For the planet. For our children's children's futures.

What tactics does Extinction Rebellion use? ›

Instead they chose to employ a tactic that's more extreme - something known as nonviolent civil disobedience. Nonviolent civil disobedience is the very heart of what Extinction Rebellion does. It's a form of political tactic and also the basis of movements that advocate for social change.

What is the extinction symbol? ›

The extinction symbol represents the threat of holocene extinction on Earth; a circle represents the planet and a stylised hourglass is a warning that time is running out for many species. The symbol dates to at least 2012 and has been attributed to anonymous East London artist Goldfrog ESP.

What are the three demands of Extinction Rebellion? ›

Our demands.
  • Tell the truth. Governments must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change. ...
  • Act now. Governments must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. ...
  • Go beyond politics.

Can you donate to Extinction Rebellion? ›

Your donation to XRUK goes towards creating actions, resourcing local groups across the UK, exposing the real climate criminals and fighting for justice. We must continue doing what we do best – challenging power and telling the truth about the climate emergency.

What is the Extinction Rebellion March 2024? ›

In mid-March, Extinction Rebellion will take to the streets to rebel for life. We are supporting young people who are calling on the government to act on their duty of care to protect human life and the precious ecosystems on which we depend. We will be disrupting the public to put pressure on the government.

Who funds Just Stop Oil Group? ›

Who funds you? Most of our funding for recruitment, training, capacity building, and education comes from Climate Emergency Fund. We also receive donations from members of the public who support the campaign and from foundations and groups who are as terrified as we are about the unfolding climate crisis.

Who is funding the last generation? ›

Last Generation (Germany, Austria, and Italy) are part of the A22 network funded by the Climate Emergency Fund, together with Renovate Switzerland, Dernière Rénovation in France, Just Stop Oil in the UK (Stopp oljeletinga in Norway), and other groups in Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, and the US.

Who is behind the Climate Emergency Fund? ›

The Climate Emergency Fund (CEF) is a Los Angeles based nonprofit organization that supports climate change activist groups involved in civil disobedience. It was founded in 2019 by filmmaker Rory Kennedy and Getty family heiress Aileen Getty.

Who are Extinction Rebellion and what do they demand? ›

Extinction Rebellion is an international movement that uses nonviolent civil disobedience to compel government action on the climate and nature emergency. Extinction Rebellion exists because conventional approaches of voting, writing to MPs and signing petitions have failed.


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