There was a recent incident in London that has been all over the news where protesters blocked a road and eventually ended up blocking an ambulance. It was stated that they were aware of the ambulance yet still refused to move. Assume a hypothetical scenario where this ambulance was responding to a time sensitive incident, i.e, a stabbing victim, who was therefore suffering from blood loss, and it could be conclusively proven that the delays caused by these protesters were the sole reason that this victim ended up dying from a survivable injury. Could the protesters be charged with manslaughter, assuming it was evident they were aware of the ambulance's presence?

  • To begin, are you generally familiar with the definition and elements of manslaughter? Have you read en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manslaughter_in_English_law or something like it? Is there a particular one of the elements that you have a question as to whether it would be satisfied? Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 20:53
  • 6
    @NateEldredge yes, involuntary manslaughter. This is defined as a death that occurs without intent to kill but arises from recklessness or criminal al negligence. I would definitely classify knowingly obstructing an ambulance as recklessness if not criminally negligent too. Any reasonable person would be aware of the possibly fatal repercussions of delaying an ambulance.
    – Ethan
    Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 21:13
  • See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Lee_lane_closure_scandal for a US case with similar facts...
    – DJohnM
    Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 2:05

1 Answer 1


Charged? Of course, the police can charge you with anything at any time

Could you be convicted?


Their best shot is charging you with “Manslaughter by an unlawful and dangerous act” also called constructive manslaughter.

The Crown must prove your act:

  1. was intentional,
  2. was unlawful,
  3. leads the reasonable person to realise that some other person is at risk of physical harm, and
  4. caused the death.

The first two are uncontestable: the protesters are deliberately engaging in an illegal act. No 3 would be up to the jury. No 4 is also up to the jury and would turn on the evidence that the delay to the ambulance caused the death.

  • 1
    I'd add that in the UK there's a whole lot of very uncomfortable "obstructing an officer..." and "...in the course of official duties" stuff that's wormed its way into minimally-debated legislation over the last 25 years or so. Allowing that the "first responders" are very often the police one obstructs other emergency services at ones peril. Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 7:19
  • 3
    The actions of this charming chap [link]dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11413045/… seem to meet the first three criteria. Fortunately, we'll never know if the fourth would be met. On that basis, I suspect if the patient had died, a manslaughter charge would be likely.
    – BWFC
    Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 7:33

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