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Behaviour bonds rejected for parade organisers

27 March 2006

Ministers have rejected plans to fine the organisers of sectarian parades should violence occur.

A report last year by Sir John Orr, the former chief constable of Strathclyde Police, on eradicating tension at religious marches, had suggested that councils should demand behaviour bonds or liability insurance from the organisers. These would be forfeited in the event of trouble.

However, ministers have claimed this infringes on the human rights of those who could not afford to pay and effectively puts a price on freedom of assembly.

The rejection of the behaviour bond is part of the draft advice of a working group on implementing the proposals, which will go before Holyrood's Justice 2 Committee tomorrow.

The group wants to encourage organisers to get insurance, but councils should not be able to refuse the march if they do not have it. In addition, the group is recommending that councils should not have to consult the communities affected by sectarian marches, as this would place a disproportionate burden on local authorities.