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Arrested for her thoughts

This video of a woman called Isabel Vaughan-Spruce being arrested for praying silently in Birmingham has gone viral. The version to which I link is from the Daily Caller. I have written my own transcription of the dialogue below. It differs from the subtitles provided by the Daily Caller in minor ways, mostly related to British police and legal terminology.


“Um, before I ask you any questions about what’s going on today, I have to caution you, which is just your rights, which is you do not have to say anything. It may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something that you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence. What are you here for today?”
“Physically, I’m just standing here.”
“OK. Why here of all places? I know you don’t live nearby.”
“But this is an abortion centre.”
“OK. That’s why you’re stood here – because you standing here is part of a protest?”
“No. I’m not protesting.”
“Are you praying?”
“I might be praying in my head, not out loud.”

“So, I’ll ask once more, will you voluntarily come with us now to the police station for me to ask you some questions about today and other days where there are allegations that you’ve broken Public Spaces Protection Orders?”
“If I’ve got a choice, then no.”
“OK, well, then you’re under arrest upon suspicion of failing to comply with the Public Spaces Protection Order, which is under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014. Now, I caution you again, you do not have to say anything. You may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something that you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence. Do you understand the caution?”
“I do, yes.”
“Your arrest is necessary in order for a prompt and effective investigation
into the offence. What that means is that I can ask you some questions [inaudible phrase]. I also have to protect vulnerable people, mainly service users, in the building. OK, so will you come please now to the police station. You’ll get booked in front of the custody sergeant, and then if you want a solicitor, you can have a solicitor [inaudible phrase]. OK? I don’t intend to handcuff you, but obviously my colleague will search you because we’re going to get into a police car and I need to make sure that you don’t have anything you could use to harm us or you could use to [inaudible phrase]”


She was then searched by a policewoman. I doubt the policeman was really that worried that Ms Vaughan-Spruce might harm him or his female colleague. To be fair to him, he was reasonably polite and even sounded a bit embarrassed. However he made it quite clear that the question he had to ask in order to decide whether to arrest her was whether she was silently praying, i.e. what was going on in her mind. He would not have had to ask if she had been praying out loud.

Isabel Vaughan-Spruce either works or volunteers for ADF-UK, which describes itself as “a faith-based legal advocacy organisation” and is the UK branch of the US-based “Alliance Defending Freedom”, whose Wikipedia entry goes up and down. ADF-UK’s own account of the affair is here.

BIRMINGHAM (20 December 2022) – A charity volunteer has been arrested and charged on four counts after she told the police she “might” be praying silently, when questioned as to why she was standing on a public street near an abortion facility.

Police approached Isabel Vaughan-Spruce standing near the BPAS Robert Clinic in Kings Norton, Birmingham. Vaughan-Spruce was carrying no sign and remained completely silent until approached by officers. Police had received complaints from an onlooker who suspected that Vaughan-Spruce was praying silently in her mind.

“It’s abhorrently wrong that I was searched, arrested, interrogated by police and charged simply for praying in the privacy of my own mind. Censorship zones purport to ban harassment, which is already illegal. Nobody should ever be subject to harassment. But what I did was the furthest thing from harmful – I was exercising my freedom of thought, my freedom of religion, inside the privacy of my own mind. Nobody should be criminalised for thinking and for praying, in a public space in the UK,” said Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, following her arrest for silent prayer.

The censorship zone measure introduced by Birmingham authorities criminalises individuals percieved to be “engaging in any act of approval or disapproval or attempted act of approval or disapproval” in relation to abortion, including through “verbal or written means, prayer or counselling…”.

This tweet shows a picture of an official signpost on a lamppost showing the text of the PSPO:

The sign refers to “audibly praying”, so the policeman may have exceeded his powers. But once you get to a point where the police can reasonably think that the law says they must arrest someone for their thoughts it scarcely matters where the exact border of formal legality lies. As so often is the case, the process is the punishment. If doing something gets you arrested, it is effectively illegal. There is very little comfort in knowing that the copper who arrested you will get a bit of a ticking-off later, especially if it is an open secret that such rebukes are issued with a nudge and a wink.

I expect it is clear to readers that I think it is an outrage that there are zones in the United Kingdom where having certain types of thoughts is an arrestable offence. No one could seriously have felt threatened by this woman standing there in silence. That said, I can certainly imagine circumstances where merely standing in silence is intended and received as a threat. I would welcome the chance to hear arguments from all sides.

20 comments to Arrested for her thoughts

  • Paul Marks

    They had no evidence that the lady was praying, or “demonstrating”, the lady was just standing there, they assumed it – partly because the lady did not deny it.

    Americans sometimes say to me that it must be good to live in a country, the United Kingdom, where elections are not rigged (generally speaking – we all know about Tower Hamlets and the general problem of “postal votes”) and it is – BUT there is also the fact that it is not really necessary for the establishment to rig elections in the United Kingdom – due to the system leading to the political parties behaving in a similar (similar – not identical) way in office.

    For example, these insane “laws” were passed by a House of Commons in which there is a large majority of Members of the Conservative Party.

    It is true that many of these Members of Parliament do not, in private, agree with general “Woke” agenda of industrial scale abortion (even forced on Northern Ireland now), “Climate Change Net Zero”, “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” (i.e. uniformity, injustice and exclusion), and all the rest of Environmental and Social Governance Agenda under Agenda 2030 – but they would never speak or vote against this agenda.

    Even at the local level for a local councillor to vote against the international Woke agenda would be instant political death – such a person would lose membership of their political group, and might well be held to have brought their local authority into disrepute (for, for example, opposing the Equalities Act of 2010 – which puts a duty on everyone in public life to support the agenda).

    Even the toxic injections are still being pushed – the members of Parliament know (yes they know) that the injections have caused and are causing injury and death – but only a handful of M.P.s dare say anything (they know that the political life of someone who speaks out is essentially over).

    Americans should feel flattered that elections are rigged in the United States – because it means elections still matter in the United States.

    The goal of the establishment in the United States is NOT for the Democrats to win every election for ever – on the contrary Republicans will be allowed to win from time to time, as long as they are the correct sort of Republicans (RINOs – Republicans in name only).

    Then American politics will be like British politics – and such things as the 1st Amendment (freedom of speech and religion) and the 2nd Amendment (the right to keep and bear arms) will join the 10th Amendment (limiting the Federal Government to the spending powers actually stated in the Constitution – with the “common defence and general welfare” being the PURPOSE of the specific spending powers, not a “general welfare spending power”, which the courts created by deliberate twisting of the words of the text) in oblivion.

    As that old Puritan Roger Sherman (the only man to sign all the founding documents of the United States) pointed out – if the time ever came when the Federal Government could spend any amount of money on anything it liked, and when “money” itself stopped being physical gold and silver and just became fiat (will, command, whim) of the government and the banks – then the Republic was finished. Such things as Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion (1st Amendment) would follow financial probity into oblivion.

  • Paul Marks

    “But we must defend free enterprise Paul – and the corporations support these reasonable limits on Freedom of Speech”.

    These restrictions are not “reasonable” – and the opinions of the Woke Corporations (which, in no way, represent “Aunt Agatha” style ordinary shareholders – as Milton Friedman thought they did) are NOT free enterprise – they are Cantillon Effect entities, created and sustained by the endless flow of Credit Money (money created from nothing) and they are dominated by “educated” people who have a deep hatred of freedom of speech, and all other basic liberties.

    It is the same in the United States – it is not an accident that conservative Republicans (i.e. real Republicans – people who want to save what little is left of the Republic) are often outspent ten or twenty times.

    Yes – ten or twenty times, see for example the United States Senate race in New Hampshire.

    The “mainstream” (Corporate) media will support the Big Government person – and they will also be able to outspend a conservative by ten or twenty to one (they will be able to spend ten or twenty Dollars, for every one Dollar the person who wants to try and save what little is left of the Republic is able to spend). In a New Hampshire style situation why even bother rigging the election? The forces of ever bigger government (for that is what they are) will send their servants to the Senate and House anyway.

    Banning political donations will achieve nothing – as that would just mean that the “free” media had a monopoly, and they support the forces of ever bigger government.

    Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, the Right to Keep and Bear Arms – they are all just a couple of votes in the Supreme Court away from joining financial probity in oblivion, and the forces of Collectivism have a majority in the Senate – which approves Supreme Court Justices.

    Then the United States will be like the United Kingdom.

    And the concentration of the media, and the vast “Money Power”?

    It comes from the financial system – indirectly from the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England, and so on.

    We live in a “Cantillon Effect” economy – which is in way a free enterprise economy. First the money is corrupted – then, eventually, everything else is corrupted.

    One “little” example.

    In 2020 the voters of Arizona voted (or are officially said to have voted) to double the top rate of the State income tax – crushing small business enterprises, but not the Corporations (who do not file under the income tax – they file under the Corporation Tax, notice how the top rate of Corporation Tax is normally LOWER than the top rate of Income Tax in most countries, it is a policy to destroy independent enterprises).

    Where did the money go? To the far left dominated education system – where children will be taught that Freedom of Speech is “Hate Speech” which must be exterminated.

    Who was behind the move to double the top rate of income tax in Arizona – GOOGLE was.

    Google financed the campaign to increase taxes and spending and it (as normal) manipulated searches on this political matter – so that people would see what the forces of Collectivism wanted them to see, and did not see what the forces of Collectivism did not want them to see.

    When one has Google it might be argued that it is not “necessary” to exterminate Freedom of Speech.

    But they insist on exterminating Freedom of the Speech (and all other basic liberties) anyway.

    In the 2022 election in Arizona some of the votes for “Katie Hobbes” were REAL (they were not all fake) – the students (or the vast majority of them) voted for her, “Generation Z” with their dead-fish eyes, and brainwashed minds.

    And they considered themselves “rebels” and “the resistance” – as they behaved exactly as the Corporations and the Government, the Corporate State, had conditioned them to behave.

    And, oh yes, they are abortion fans (because they have been taught to be so – and the media, including the entertainment media, constantly reinforce that), including killing babies AFTER they are born, and sexually mutilating children if babies are allowed to live for a few years.

    I was astonished that Mr Biden was so open about his support for the sexual mutilation of children (“gender affirming care”) in the 2020 election campaign – but then it became obvious that between the mass election fraud and the brainwashed people, it did not matter what he said.

    Yes – not just election fraud, some of those “81 million” votes were REAL (perhaps most of them) – there are millions, tens of millions, of people in the United States who really are like this.

  • Prof Paz

    I am wondering just a little about this: “No one could seriously have felt threatened by this woman standing there in silence”.

    You’re not having the best time. You know what you’re about to do is controversial. There is someone near the entrance displaying strange behaviour. It’s possible that you might feel a bit intimidated by this. (And of course it is established that it is how one feels that determines whether one is a victim of something.)

  • Paul Marks

    “strange behaviour”.

    Killing babies, even (in parts of the United States) after they are born, or sexually mutilating children is not, it seems, “strange behaviour”. But a women standing quietly on a public street is “strange behaviour”.

  • Paul Marks

    My mistake – the lady did deny that she was protesting.

    I apologise for my error.

    This makes the actions of the police officers even worse.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.

  • JohnM

    What infuriated me was the length of time it took the Female PC to search the Lady – over 3 minutes. It was all part of the punishment for daring to be different.
    In my opinion it would have been better for her to say nothing. The Police and the CPS are required to PROVE that a crime has been committed, or has “Innocent until PROVED guilty” been replaced by “Guilty until PROVED innocent”.
    I understand that the Police have video evidence of previous “guilty” acts of this lady. Eventually I hope that we see all.
    This morning I put the lady’s name in DuchDuckGo and found that apart from the Birmingham Mail, GBNews and some Catholic newspapers, all the MSM have ignored this story.

  • bobby b

    “You’re not having the best time. You know what you’re about to do is controversial. There is someone near the entrance displaying strange behaviour. It’s possible that you might feel a bit intimidated by this.”

    One of my fav bookstores was burned down and looted by a Mob. Another friend’s business was burned out and looted. (In that order. Not a really smart Mob.) No one was arrested. But thankfully, we arrest people like her so that no one must feel uncomfortable that she might be silently praying. If you’re an abortion supporter, I can’t imagine that you feel that a prayer has any meaning or consequence anyway.

    (I understand that you were just speaking of how they feel they can justify this. But it sort of burns.)

  • How lucky that JustStopOil do not pray to Gaia when halting traffic, sometimes delaying ambulances with critically-ill patients reaching hospitals, indeed sometimes, it might be, even delaying policemen and policewomen from reaching and arresting a sole woman too honest to deny unequivocally praying silently to an unwoke deity.

    (That is, I assume JSO do not engage Gaia in silent prayer – I do not recall the authorities ever asking them.)

  • bobby b

    Niall Kilmartin
    December 24, 2022 at 8:05 pm

    (That is, I assume JSO do not engage Gaia in silent prayer – I do not recall the authorities ever asking them.)

    “Sir, they’re blocking traffic.”

    “I can’t arrest them for that.”

    “Sir, I think one of them is silently mouthing prayers.”

    “Troops, move in!”

  • Subotai Bahadur

    Paul Marks @ December 24, 2022 1113 hrs.

    Americans should feel flattered that elections are rigged in the United States – because it means elections still matter in the United States.

    With respect, I think we are past that phase. The theft of the 2020 and 2022 elections was bad enough. However, the absolute refusal of the Republican Party to object to election fraud in 2020 and them acting to aid and abet it in 2022 means that matters have changed irrevocably. Now toss in that during what we call the “lame duck” session, after the elections and before the installation of the new Congress the Democrats who today control the House of Representatives [where all spending bills must start] put forth an Omnibus Spending Bill that covered the first year of the new Congress [which will be controlled by the Republicans which would give them the right to set their own spending priorities]. This was sent to the Republicans in the Senate.

    In the Senate, all sorts of delays are built in. It only takes two Senators to declare a “filibuster” which freezes things. McConnell just had to stall for two weeks, most of which Congress would be closed for the holidays. Then the new Republican House majority would write the new budget. Instead, he pushed it through the Senate at warp speed, adding even more money for things the Democrats prioritized. Thus, rendering the new House Republican majority impotent for a year.

    Now toss in what happened today. In Arizona, a conservative Republican named Kari Lake ran for governor. She was ahead by 10 points before the election. In heavily populated Maricopa County, there were an assortment of non-standard activities. Suddenly, about half of the voting machines broke down on election day. For some reason, a large number of the ballots that have to be fed into the counting machines were found to be i9 inches long instead of the machine requirement of 18 inches long and could not be counted. And about 25,000 votes came out of nowhere after the polls closed with no chain of custody.

    Lake sued, for obvious reasons. And these irregularities were found, and others. For reasons unknown, the court suddenly ruled today that the trial would be ended because they decided that Lake did not have standing to sue over this.

    If a candidate who alleges that they lost due to deliberate governmental misconduct and fraud is deemed to not have “standing” to take the case to the judicial system, it says more than the courts may want to about the honesty of the system, the lack of a Social and Political Contract controlling the government, and the legitimacy of both the courts and the government so installed.

    If you have functionally one party with two names but one set of goals, why vote?

    Subotai Bahadur

  • Bruce

    The calculated provocation of REAL PEOPLE continues.

    The aim is to push some among such REAL people, (or, if that is not happening fast enough, some carefully-selected “wind-up-toys), “over the edge.

    The “reaction”, which has long been planned and researched and REHEARSED is to slaughter or permanently incarcerate and utterly terrify and neutralize as many “REAL PEOPLE as possible, as a salutary warning.

    The PRIMARY purpose of terrorism is, oddly enough, to TERRIFY people, This is the same goal for “freelance”, “religious” and STATE terrorists.

    Scared people are easy to manipulate. Scared and HUNGRY, even easier to bend to an evil will.

    It is ONLY, EVER, as they say in the classics: “Pour encourager les autres”.


  • Paul Marks

    Bruce – yes the intention, of both the Democrats and the RINOs, is to provoke – to provoke violence so the establishment has an excuse for a crackdown.

    For example, the RINO judge in Arizona pulled a new civil law legal standard out of his backside – instead of just proving that the election law was violated (repeatedly) conservatives had to prove that the Democrats and RINOs INTENTIONALLY violated it.

    Actually that could be proved as well – but the judge refused to allow such evidence as signatures on mail-in ballots not matching.

    So most polling stations in the largest county could have “technical difficulties” on election day and the “election” stands – in direct violation of Arizona law.

    When people repeatedly spit in your face they are trying to provoke you.

    This entire fiat money Credit Bubble finance system (the Corporate State) has corrupted not just the Democrats but also the RINOs – “when the money is corrupt – eventually everything else becomes corrupt as well”.

    God damn this system, God damn it to Hell.

    Not bad language – as I mean it literally.

  • Paul Marks

    JohnM and bobby b – it is grim indeed.

    Fan of Slackwire Clowns – they DO know what they do, both in the United States and the United Kingdom (for example I know, from some Members of Parliament, that the members of the House in general know, yes know, such thing as the injections are toxic, and the “equalities” DEI agenda laws violate freedom of speech and other basic liberties).

    They are not innocent – not in America and not here, they know what is being done. That is why I typed the conclusion I typed in my previous comment.

    They can still repent – but contrary to Hollywood, true repentance (in Canon Law) is not about just privately admitting you have done wrong, but openly admitting it and accepting just punishment.

    It is claimed that Pope Francis in Rome was recently asked by seminaries (in a little question and answer session he organised – rather than read out a speech he found “boring”) whether they should say to someone in the confessional that their sins were forgiven – if they knew that person had no intention of changing their ways (accepting just punishment) and was just saying “Our Fathers” or “Hail Marys” as a ritual. Pope Francis is said (said) to have replied that they should say that the sins of such a person were forgiven, that they were absolved.

    This, if (if) it is true, would explain why Pope Francis allows unrepentant sinners, such as the mass abortion and sexual mutilation of children supporters Nancy Pelosi and Joseph Biden to take part in the sacrifice of the mass.

    I repeat “if” it is true – as such as statement by anyone (including Pope Francis) would be a blatant violation of Canon Law.

    It would be “Hollywood” Christianity (shown in films) – where someone says a few “Our Fathers” or “Hail Marys” is told that they are forgiven and then goes out to rape more children (or whatever) – this is NOT what Canon Law states, it just is not.

    Let us take the charitable view – and hope this is just a rumour, that it is NOT what happened.

  • Paul Marks

    Subotai Bahadur.

    As you know, a filibuster can be broken by a vote of 60 Senators.

    That is what people such as “Mitch” McConnel do – they (the RINOs) vote with the Democrats to break the resistance of such Senators as Rand Paul and Mike Lee.

    Why do people such as Senator McConnel behave the way they do?

    Because they are part of the same fiat money and Credit Bubble finance Corporate State system – that is why.

    Roger Sherman was correct – once government is allowed to spend any amount of money on anything it likes, and once governments and banks are allowed to create “money” from nothing, then everything else will be corrupted.

    And not just in the United States – everywhere.

  • She was arrested on suspicion of violating a PSPO aimed at stopping harassment of an abortion centre, she was not arrested “for praying” as such beyond the point that “praying” is used as a form of demonstration. The PSPO is clearly aimed at preventing demonstrations near the abortion centre.

    Personally I think it is terrible that a PSPO was issued that prevents a demonstration that causes neither criminal damage nor obstruction, but that is a somewhat different point. People must be free to protest if they do so non-violently and without criminal obstruction

    The Plod here were just enforcing the PSPO in question, and not in a heavy handed way. Asking the question if she was praying was just Plod going through the motions to establish she was there demonstrating against the abortion centre (rather than waiting for her dog to piddle or for an Uber she had summoned or whatever). They knew she was, she knew she was, she knew that they knew she was. And she should have been allowed to, but as I said that’s a slightly different point

  • bobby b

    C’mon, if she had responded that she was trying to work out a recipe for mead, would she have been arrested? I’m guessing not. She was arrested because she admitted to Badthought.

    Perhaps she should have said she was silently praying to Allah. Imagine the poor cop’s dilemma.

    (Have to say, your cops over there seem very polite, though.)

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    Paul Marks:

    I wanted to be charitable to the individual police officer. It’s Christmas, after all,

    I have also been told responding the the Prince of Lies with scripture is a good idea. Those WC’s (I am NOT referring to a German bathroom) will go where they go after they are done with the journey we call Life.


    Politeness has been used to cover a multitude of crimes and sins.

    But that woman would have been advised to read the full statement:

    be as gentle as doves and wise as serpents

    That said, doves are as like to drop poo on your freshly washed car as any pigeon.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns


    The WC’s were merely following orders.

    Did not certain persons die from being dropped from a platform with a loop of rope around their necks for just following orders after World War II?

    It is my understanding one of the hangmen was British, hired on the basis of his deep understanding of the Weights & Drops Table.

    Just saying, “just following orders” is a crappy excuse for what they did.

  • Martin

    Why do people such as Senator McConnel behave the way they do?

    McConnell made it clear just a few days ago that his main priority is another country so go figure. Whether it’s ideologically inspired,just favours to the military-industrial complex, or a bit of both I don’t know. Either way given that it is his priority, that is probably best served by ongoing democrat hegemony while he provides a pretence of being an opposition leader.