Review of Marches and Parades In Scotland: Guidance for Scottish Local Authorities

Guidance for Scottish local authorities on marches and parades in Scotland.

Section 3 Step-by-step guide


67 This section sets out the basic steps that your local authority should follow when taking decisions on notifications received at least 28 days before the procession. The step-by-step guide below sets out the process over a 28-day period and shows how the administrative process should work from the point of receiving the notification to holding the procession itself. Some organisers will send your local authority their notifications some months beforehand, which will give your local authority and the police a considerably longer time to plan and prepare for the procession and to let communities know. In these cases, we would expect your local authority to give organisers early notice of their decision.

68 As highlighted earlier in this guidance, decisions to be taken on the more routine processions or parades may not need to follow the entire process described below. Your local authority can decide how this should work. However, it may be possible for them to identify general events and draw together a list with the police and organisers of events which your local authority could class as routine and suitable for fast-tracking. However, your local authority must remember that they must follow the statutory duties imposed by the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, as amended.

69 Even for processions which are to be taken through the full process, it may be possible to skip some of the recommended steps - such as the need to hold a precursory meeting, the need to assess the risk against other tests and the need for organisers to fill in a risk assessment. This would help to avoid making the process overly long for marches which, while not classed as 'fast track', can, nevertheless, be categorised as being of a more routine nature than others. We provide a separate chart to outline the various processes - including fast-tracking - with this guidance.

The notice

70 All organisers (apart from funeral directors and any processions covered by an order made under section 62(11B)(b) of the 1982 Act) must give your local authority notice that they want to hold a procession. Your local authority can decide not to enforce the notice period of 28 days, but generally only in exceptional circumstances.

71 In line with section 62(1) of the 1982 Act, march organisers must give your local authority, the police and the National Parks Authority (if this applies) written notification that they plan to hold a procession. The notification must provide the information set out in section 62(3) of the Act. However, your local authority will want to note that the working group has drafted a standard notification form that they could give to all organisers. Your local authority can find this at Annex D. Your local authority may want to keep a stock of these forms at convenient places and give them to organisers when they ask. You should also give them your local authority's code of conduct and 'how to' guide with the notification form.

Week one

Step one

Day one - receiving the notification

72 Your local authority should receive the notification form from the organiser at least 28 days before the procession is to be held. Your local authority should acknowledge that they have received the notification form and they should make sure that the police have a copy of it. Return any late or incomplete notification forms to the organiser and ask them to fill in the missing information and send it back (if there is enough time for them to do so). For late notifications (notifications which are sent within 28 days of the proposed date of the procession), ask the organiser to explain why the notification was sent in late with a note that they may want to consider applying for a waiver to the 28-day period. (See section 62(4)(b) of the 1982 Act.)

Step 2

Days one to three - deciding how to handle the notification

73 Decide, along with the police, whether the procession falls into one of the categories below.

  • It needs to go through the entire suggested administrative process (in other words, where a first meeting will need to be held, a risk assessment carried out by the organiser, the views from the public taken and where conditions may have to be placed).
  • It is one of the organisations or processions on your local authority's 'fast track' list (see paragraph 68) where most arrangements can be handled by phone or e-mail.
  • It is not one of the organisations or processions on your local authority's fast track list but because of its nature it will be possible to put it through the fast-track procedures. Again, most arrangements should be handled by phone or e-mail.

Days one to three - setting up the first meeting

74 If your local authority are taking the notification through the full administrative process, they should contact the organiser, the police and any other groups that they feel should be represented (for example, the emergency services, community council representatives and so on) to arrange the first meeting. This meeting will help your local authority to tackle any early concerns and discuss issues of planning for the event and so on.

Fast-track notifications

75 For fast-track notifications, where your local authority and the police should be able to deal with the organiser mostly by phone and e-mail, your local authority may want to hold a one-off meeting with the organiser and the police to confirm the arrangements and to go over any issues or concerns which are still outstanding from the previous year's event.

76 Keeping in mind that your local authority must follow all the legislative steps set out in the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, it may be possible, once your local authority have confirmation from the representatives at that meeting that all issues have been satisfactorily dealt with, to give the organiser early confirmation that the event can go ahead with or without conditions. After the event has been held, your local authority would need to hold a debriefing meeting (see paragraph 90 below) to review any issues.

77 The following steps mostly apply to notifications which should be taken through the full administrative process. However, there are some steps which fast-track notifications will also need to follow. The legal steps set out in this section of the guidance apply to all notifications.

Step 3

Day three - publicising the notification

78 Your local authority should arrange to publicise the notification in line with their agreed practices (see also bullet points at paragraph 36 for methods of publicity), give up to two weeks for views to be sent in and explain how your local authority will take those views into account. Your local authority should also write to those on their opt-in list (see paragraphs 51 to 54) to let them know someone plans to hold a procession and ask for views. Given their nature, some 'fast-track' notification (for example, Common Ridings events) may need rather less in the way of community consultation.

Day four - other tasks to carry out

79 To meet the requirements of section 63(10) of the 1982 Act, it is suggested that your local authority should now add a note of the notification to the list that the working group recommends your local authority keep, and searches their files for records of any previous similar processions. The process needed under section 63(10) of the 1982 Act applies to fast-track notifications (as long as a person has asked for information about a particular procession).

80 Your local authority should keep these records to hand and prepare a short summary statement to highlight any areas of concern with the last procession in as far as they relate to section 63(8)(c) of the 1982 Act. Your local authority should prepare this statement in time for the first meeting. This process is a legal requirement and so also applies to fast-track notifications.

Step 4

Day five - taking stock and arranging the first meeting

81 Your local authority should take stock of the information collected so far and consult with the police (by e-mail) to see if there are any early concerns which they consider will need to be raised at the meeting with the organiser. This could include the proposed route, the timing of the event, the stewarding and so on. Your local authority should keep a note of these discussions along with any e-mail exchanges and raise any concerns with the organiser at the precursory meeting.

82 Your local authority should also begin collecting any relevant information about the list of considerations set out in section 63(8)(a) of the 1982 Act and discuss them with the police.

Week two

Step 5

Day 6 - holding the precursory meeting

83 It is recommended that your local authority hold a precursory meeting with the organiser and the police to discuss the notification and any concerns about holding the procession. It might be useful to keep a brief record of the meeting and outcomes agreed between everyone. Your local authority may also want to use this meeting to discuss the organiser's risk assessment, if needed. Your local authority will probably need more meetings along the way towards the final decision. A precursory meeting is relevant for fast-track notifications and it may be possible to have this meeting arranged much earlier in the process.

Step 6

Days 7 and 8 - assessing risk

84 By now, your local authority should have enough information to make a preliminary assessment of the risks associated with holding the procession. It is recommended that the assessment is carried out with the police, and that this will help your local authority to reach an informed decision on the information and advice - if appropriate - to be included in their report for the committee.

Week three

Step 7

Days 9 to 18 - reviewing the evidence

85 By day 18 your local authority should have received all the comments from those affected by the proposal and be in a position to consider whether the notification will need to be sent to a committee for consideration. In doing so your local authority should:

  • compare the comments received from the police, the public and those on the opt-in list;
  • examine the information gathered from the precursory meeting and any other meeting your local authority may have had about the notification;
  • put together any other relevant information or evidence your local authority have to hand, particularly information on whether the organisers kept to the conditions for previous processions which they arranged (section 63(8)(c) of the 1982 Act); and
  • assess the representations received and all other information your local authority have against all parts of section 63(8) of the 1982 Act and your council's Schemes of Administration and Delegation.

86 Taken together these will allow your local authority to decide whether the notification needs to be referred to a committee. If so, your local authority should, on or before day 18, issue a notice and agenda calling a committee meeting to all who made a representation. Your local authority should give at least three days' notice of that meeting. With that notice and agenda your local authority should include:

  • a copy of the notification form;
  • a copy of the comments received from the police;
  • a copy of all representations received; and
  • a report with details of all other relevant information your local authority have.

Week 4

Step 8

Making an order about a procession

87 If the committee decides that conditions are to be placed on a procession or it is to be prohibited, your local authority should draft an order, tell the police and contact the organiser to let them know the decision. Your local authority should publicise the order as appropriate including updating information on their website. This process also applies to fast-track notifications.

Step 9

Day 21 - Letter of confirmation

88 If the committee decides that your local authority need to place restrictions on a procession, and even if this is decided that this will not be necessary, your local authority should give the organiser a letter of confirmation setting out what has been agreed and why certain decisions have been taken (section 63(3)(a) of the 1982 Act). Your local authority should include a copy of any order that is needed (see section 63(3)(a) of the 1982 Act) with the letter along with another copy of their code of conduct. This process also applies to fast-track notifications.

89 In most cases, it should be possible to complete all these steps well before the end of the 28-day period (see paragraph 39 on minimum period of notice) and at least one week before the procession is to be held. We appreciate that there may be rare occasions where it will not be possible to reach a decision until very close to the day of the procession itself. However, depending on section 63(4) of the 1982 Act, a local authority must give at least two days' notice of any decision to prevent or place conditions on a procession or any change to those decisions.

Step 10

Issues after the procession

Debriefing meetings

90 Your local authority should aim to arrange a debriefing meeting (if necessary) with the organiser and the police as soon as possible after the event (within 14 days of the event, if possible). These meetings allow those at the procession to give their views and voice any concerns over holding the parade in the future. It may be appropriate to invite representatives from community organisations so your local authority can hear their concerns. Take a note of the debriefing meeting and send it to all those who attend. Debriefing meetings are also relevant to fast-track notifications.

Follow-up letter

91 If any serious concerns have been raised at the debriefing meeting, your local authority should let the organiser know about them in a follow-up letter from your local authority or the police. The letter should set out all the concerns and how these might affect any future notices to hold a procession.

Keeping records

92 Your local authority should record the outcome of all events and hold it on file with other relevant papers and consider it when notices are made in the future by the organiser. Your local authority should also update the lists to be kept under section 63(9) of the 1982 Act. This process is also relevant to fast-track notifications.


93 We have designed this guidance to help your local authority understand the changes to the law which will apply from 1 April 2007 and the good practice they should follow from that date. With this in mind, it is important for your local authority to note that they must consider notifications they receive before 1 April 2007 against the existing conditions in the 1982 Act. Your local authority must consider notifications they receive from 1 April 2007 onwards against the new processes inserted into the 1982 Act by the 2006 Act, which amends the 1982 Act.

94 Not every notification needs to go through all the processes outlined in the step-by-step section above (in other words, precursory meetings, risk assessments, debriefing meetings and so on). Your local authority can decide the circumstances under which they will not pass a notification through all the steps. However, they must follow all the legislative steps for all notifications sent to them under section 62(2) and (3) of the 1982 Act. Your local authority must also keep to any duties which are placed on them under Part V of that Act.

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