S137 Highways Act 1980,
wilfull obstruction of the highway, where specifically, the item causing the obstruction is not a vehicle.
Section 137 of the Highways Act 1980 (as amended by sections 38 and 46 of the Criminal Justice Act 1982 and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, Schedule 7) provides an offence of wilful obstruction of the highway.
137(1) An offence is committed if a person, without lawful authority or excuse, in any way wilfully obstructs the free passage along a highway.
(i) In the case of Hirst & Agu v CC West Yorks Police 1986 (when some animal rights supporters were peacefully handing out leaflets) suggested that proof of this offence could be considered in three stages:
* is there an obstruction? Any stopping or slowing of traffic on the highway (more than a trivial hold-up) is an obstruction (traffic could be vehicular, animal or pedestrian in this context).
* is the obstruction "wilful" or deliberate (as opposed to accidental). The activity in which the person is engaged must cause an obstruction, but there is no requirement to show there was an intent to cause an obstruction.
* is the wilful obstruction without lawful excuse? Lawful excuse may be by way of express permission, such as the licensing of charity collections or the observance of directions from a traffic police. However, ANY LAWFUL ACTIVITY CARRIED OUT IN A REASONABLE MANNER MAY AMOUNT TO LAWFUL EXCUSE. The concept of implied lawful excuse may be relevant to political demonstrators provided their protests are reasonably limited in space and time, mere transitory inconvenience to traffic (including pedestrians) may not amount to an offence.
A substantial address to a sizeable crowd on a public highway, which meant that the highway was not completely blocked, but was less convenient and commodious, was unlawful obstruction - Homer v Cadman 1886.
(ii) Obstructions of the highway may also be an offence at common law under public nuisance.
S28 Town Police Clauses Act 1847 makes it an offence to obstruct the street to the distraction, annoyance or danger of residents or passengers.
The bottom line is if you have caused an obstruction to a highway whether it be intentional or not, and it was calculated to interfer, annoy or obstruct an individual/s as to the free passage along the highway then unfortunately you would be guilty of an offence. Unless you can show that it was a complete accident such as a breakdown of a vehicle.
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