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Arrest at Common Law for Breach of the Peace

A breach of the peace is not in itself a criminal offence, but the police and any other person have a power of arrest where there are reasonable grounds for believing a breach of the peace is taking place or is imminent. The Court of Appeal defined a breach of the peace as being ‘an act done or threatened to be done which either actually harms a person, or in his presence, his property, or is likely to cause such harm being done’ – see R v Howell. This power of arrest will, of course, be closely scrutinised in connection with Article 5 (the right to liberty and security), Article 10 (the right to freedom of expression) and Article 11 (the right to freedom of assembly and association).
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