PPS issues decision in relation to unnotified procession

Publication date:

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has taken decisions not to prosecute seven individuals reported in connection with an unnotified procession in Londonderry. 

The individuals were investigated by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) for an alleged breach of section 6 of the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998 after walking together along a number of streets on their way to Bishop Street Courthouse on 25th August 2023. 

After careful consideration of all evidence submitted by police and the full context in which the procession took place, decisions were taken not to prosecute all seven on public interest grounds.

Public interest factors that were relevant to these decisions included the fact that:

  • The procession involved a relatively small number of people and was short in duration; 
  • The procession was peaceful and caused no public disorder (or any apparent risk of public disorder) and no need for the deployment of any policing resource; 
  • No harm or damage occurred and there was minimal disruption or inconvenience caused to traffic or the general public; and
  • No complaints were made by any members of the local community and there was no other evidence of any negative community impact caused by the procession.

Decisions were taken by applying the Test for Prosecution, as set out in the PPS Code for Prosecutors. The Test is met if, in relation to an identifiable individual, the available evidence is sufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of a conviction (the Evidential Test) and if prosecution is in the public interest (the Public Interest Test).

A PPS spokeswoman said: “It was considered that the conduct of the reported individuals did amount to participation in a public procession and that their procession had not been subject to the legal notification required. 

“However, the purpose of having legislative regulation of parades and processions in Northern Ireland is to control public disorder and damage, to minimise disruption to the life of the community and to enhance community relations.  In this particular case, it was clear that the procession investigated did not raise any of those risks and therefore the public interest would not be served by pursuing criminal proceedings.

“This decision was reached impartially, independently and fully in line with the PPS Code for Prosecutors. Each case reported by police is considered carefully taking into account the specific facts and circumstances of the alleged offending.  These decisions are therefore fact specific and no indication of a general policy position in relation to the prosecution of unnotified processions or parades.” 


Notes to Editors: 

  1. Further detail on the Test for Prosecution can be found in the Code for ProsecutorsThis includes information on the public interest limb of the Test in sections 4.10 – 4.17.  
  2. Media queries for the PPS should be referred to the Communications Unit by emailing ppspressoffice@ppsni.gov.uk inside office hours. The out of hours press officer can be contacted on 07920 271804 or 07795 480234.