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Public events

Police powers are limited - before organising a public event make sure you understand who is responsible for public safety

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In general the public perception is that the police are the lead agency for approving all public events, including those which take place on the public highway.  In reality the police have no authority to either approve or ban such events and in fact, police powers to regulate traffic for planned events are extremely limited.  Furthermore, the police have no general duty to preserve public safety at any public event, except where there are imminent to likely threats to life.

Legal opinion suggests that the responsibility for public safety rests with the organisers of an event, the owners of the land on which it takes place and possibly the Local Authority if the event takes place on a road. However, other persons or agencies who undertake actions regarding public safety at an event may assume a duty of care and, therefore, also become responsible.

In the past, the service has taken the lead and undertaken actions to facilitate public events, acting for what they believed to be the public good.  However, with the emerging spectre of civil litigation, a more focused approach, confining police action to those issues which are part of our core responsibilities and where there is legal authority, is becoming necessary.  This situation is potentially damaging to many public events and the police may be seen as the 'villain of the piece' if situations are not handled with great sensitivity.  The public will not want to know why they cannot hold an event, but how they can proceed with police approval.

For further information about how Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police can assist with your event, please contact the Operations Planning Department:

Further information can be found at:

HSE Event Safety Guide