NW, Regina v: CACD 3 Mar 2010

The appellant, a schoolgirl and her friend were involved in an incident with police officers which rapidly escalated. She said that only she had been involved, but that it was wrong when others quite outside her control became involved on seeing the officers’ behaviour, to charge her with violent disorder.
Held: The judge had been correct to reject a ‘no case’ submission. The section did not require any common purpose. Each of those involved might have a different or no purpose. The section was concerned with the effect of violence involving several persons on others. That was not affected by the intention of those involved. The phrase ‘present together’ is intended to denote no more than being present in the same place.
Moore-Bick LJ said: ‘At the heart of each of these three statutory public order offences lies the use or threat of unlawful violence of a kind that would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety. In other words, the mischief to which these sections of the Act are directed is public disorder, that is, conduct of a violent or threatening kind that would cause ordinary members of the public going about their lawful business to fear for their safety if they happened to come upon it. The offences of riot, violent disorder and affray are carefully graduated, both by reference to the number of persons who must be present in order for the offence to be committed and by reference to the purposes for which violence is used or threatened. Thus, the offence of riot can be committed only when twelve or more persons who are present together use or threaten unlawful violence for a common purpose, whereas the offence of violent disorder can be committed when three persons are present together and affray by one person acting alone.
It is in this context that the terms of section 2 of the Act fall to be interpreted. The absence, in contrast to section 1, of any requirement that there be a common purpose among those using or threatening the use of violence, makes it clear that the offence which it creates is not confined to situations in which the individual members of the crowd are acting together to achieve a common aim, or even with a common motive. Thus, in paragraph of the current (12th) edition of Smith and Hogan, Criminal Law one finds the following comment:
‘There need be no common purpose. Each of the three or more persons may have a different purpose or no purpose.’
In our view that correctly reflects the natural meaning of the section.’

Moore-Bick LJ, Silber J, Kenneth Parker J
[2010] EWCA Crim 404
Public Order Act 1986 2
England and Wales
CitedBrutus v Cozens HL 19-Jul-1972
The House was asked whether the conduct of the defendant at a tennis match at Wimbledon amounted to using ‘insulting words or behaviour’ whereby a breach of the peace was likely to be occasioned contrary to section 5. He went onto court 2, blew a . .

Cited by:
CitedGnango, Regina v CACD 26-Jul-2010
The defendant appealed against his conviction for murder. He had engaged in a street battle using guns. A bullet from an opponent killed an innocent passer by. The court was asked whether the principles of joint venture and transferred malice could . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.402484