MEGAPHONE LAW UK: Using a loud hailer speaker in a public place is not against the law per se (by or in itself).
But, depending where you are, and what you say, you could get into trouble with police and policing work.
In some cases you could get cited for disorderly conduct or violating noise ordinances. It would depend on how loud your megaphone setup is.
Using a megaphone in a vehicle could also cite driving without due care and attention. Some severe situations may also get classed as assault.
Assault I hear you say! Yes, in fact some individuals got charged with assault for using a PA system in a public place. Someone else’s earbuds were the victim of the ‘attack’ but yes – it happened.
Public Speaking: Megaphone
There is no specific offence in using a public megaphone in a public place. But, using a loud hailer speaker on private land would require the permission of the landowner as a rule.
In fact, people use megaphones in the United Kingdom during election campaigns. The candidate is usually in a car, but they can still deliver their speech with ease and everybody can hear it.
But, yelling through a megaphone to people on the streets is not the rule of thumb in the United Kingdom. You are unlikely to get arrested but people on the streets may get annoyed with you.
Note: The circumstances and the speech content mean the individual may be committing an offence. See the legislation on Breach of the Peace and breach of the Public Order Act 1986.
Breach of the Peace
Breach of the peace is a crime at common law constituted by one or more persons. Causing a breach of the peace means you are acting in a riotous or disorderly manner.
Such conduct is often severe enough to cause alarm to ordinary people and threaten serious disturbance to the community and property.
Protests and Public Marches
Are you planning on organising a march, a rally, or a demonstration? If so, this section explains when you need to let the police know beforehand – and when you don’t.
According to the laws in the United Kingdom, as an event organiser you must notify the police in writing at least six (6) days before a public march. The police will need to know:
- The date and the time of the planned march.
- The exact route that the walk will follow.
- The names and the addresses of the march organisers.
Even so, police rules and regulations mean they can:
- Restrict (limit) or change the route of the march.
- Set out others conditions attached to the route march.
In some cases, police forces also have the authority to:
- Place a limit on the amount of people who can attend.
- Place limits on how long the rally lasts.
- Change its location.
- Stop a sit-down protest (if it is blocking road traffic or public walkways).
Note: You must tell the police without delay (as soon as possible) if you arrange a march at short notice.
Demonstrations Not Involving a March
There is no need to notify the police if there will be no march organised as part of this type of event or protest.
Public Order Act 1986
- A person who uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting, is guilty of an offence if:
- He intends thereby to stir up racial hatred, or
- Having regard to all the circumstances racial hatred is likely to be stirred up thereby.
Section 54 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982
- Any person who:
- Sounds or plays any musical instrument
- Sings or performs; or
- Operates any radio or television receiver, record player, tape-recorder or other sound producing device;
- So as to give any other person reasonable cause for annoyance and fails to desist on being required to do so by a constable in uniform, shall be guilty of an offence.
- Refer to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for further clarification.
Note: “Operating other sound producing device” would include a megaphone or personal loudspeaker. Thus, if members of the public make a complaint the individual would have to stop if required to do so by a constable in uniform.
ALSO IN THIS SECTION
What is the Meaning of Legal Rights?
In most civilized constitutions, it is widely accepted that everyone has the legal right to life, liberty, and security. A person’s legal rights should not be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. As a rule, everyone has the right of personal safety and to be secure against unreasonable or unauthorized search or seizure.
Do I Have to Give My Name to a Police Officer?
UK law does not require you to give your name to a police officer unless you are under arrest. In actuality, it is a criminal offence not to provide your proper name if you are being arrested. Note that giving a false name is a very serious offence punishable by English law.
Can the Police Enter Your Home Without a Warrant?
As a general rule police officers may legally search any area. They can also seize incriminating evidence from you if it is clearly visible to them during the search. The police may carry out a search (and seize evidence from your home) without a search warrant if they see an illegal act occurring outside of your home.
How Long Can the Police Detain You?
The police are authorized to detain you for up to 24 hours. The law says they must then release you, or charge you with a crime. In some serious circumstances (such as homicide cases) they may be able to hold you up to 96 hours. The United Kingdom Terrorism Act permits an arrestee to get detained for up to 14 days and without charge.