The Riot Act

I previously thought that the Riot Act was an old law that existed now only as a figure of speech, that is “to be read the riot act”.

But imagine my shock, surprise and delight, when I stumbled upon The Crimes Act 1961, section V, paragraph 88. Yes, it was the Riot Act!

The idea is if 12 or more people are assembled in a place such as Aotea Square, late 1984, and are doing what is known as “fucking shit up” then a Magistrate or Justice acting at the request of a member of the police may read the Riot Act.

He needs to get as close to the rioters as he can, call for silence, then in a loud, clear voice say,

“Her Majesty the Queen commands all of you to disperse immediately and to go quietly to your homes or to your lawful business, upon pain of being charged with an offence punishable by imprisonment for 5 years.


Assumedly at this point the rioters says “Oh crikey! Well, we’d better jolly well stop this unless we want to be doing some serious jail time! I say, put down that rubbish bin, Dave!”

I am very impressed by the Riot Act and I would like to see it invoked a lot more. I would also like to see more laws that require “God save the Queen” to be yelled out.

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