VICTORY for Isabel, who had all charges dropped after six-month investigation

Charity volunteer arrested twice over silent prayer “thought crime” near an abortion facility has all charges dropped after a lengthy six-month investigation by West Midlands police. Case closure comes shortly after Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, clarified that “silent prayer” is “not unlawful” in a letter to police leadership. 

Read the 22 September update below:

£32,138 of £40,000 raised

Your donation helps…

Cover the legal fees & expenses associated with court proceedings

Our work alongside hundreds of individuals like Isabel who come to us for help

Advocate for laws, policies, and guidance that protect freedom of speech, thought, and assembly


Andrew Foster

September 3, 2023

With my prayers of support for Isabel

Amount Donated

Laszlo Gaspar

August 13, 2023

God bless you

Amount Donated

Elizabeth Manley

July 19, 2023

Amount Donated

Isabel’s second arrest


By loading the video, you agree to YouTube's privacy policy.
Learn more

Load video

Keep up to date

Please keep me informed by email about Isabel’s case, your work, your breakthroughs, and how to best support you.

UPDATE: 22 September 2023

Following a six-month investigation, West Midlands Police have confirmed that they will not bring charges against Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, issuing an apology for the length of time to reach the decision not to prosecute her for silent prayer. 

The charitable volunteer was arrested for praying in a “buffer zone” surrounding an abortion facility on Station Road, Birmingham, on 6th March. The censorship zone, introduced by local authorities via a “Public Spaces Protection Order,” bans prayer, amongst other activities considered to constitute protest against abortion. The full text is available here. 

The arrest caught worldwide attention in a viral video, in which police accused Vaughan-Spruce of committing an offence by silently praying in her own mind: “you’ve said you’ve been engaging in prayer, which is the offence”. 

Last December, the ‘thoughtcrime’ case of Isabel Vaughan-Spruce displayed a harrowing Orwellian reality as we saw the charity volunteer treated like a criminal for silently praying near an abortion facility – an action deemed by West Midlands Police force as “intimidating”.

Now, her case is over.

While these Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO) have equated prayer to protest, Isabel prayed silently, and our laws, properly interpreted, simply cannot be interpreted as criminalising thoughts in the privacy of our minds.

The past six months were exhausting for Isabel, who repeatedly stood up for her fundamental freedoms, including her freedom to think and even be in a public space.

The Process is the Punishment

  • On 6 December 2022, Isabel was arrested for silently and unobtrusively praying within the vicinity of a closed abortion facility in Birmingham.
  • Police officers proceeded to conduct a humiliating search, including a search through Isabel’s hair, before detaining her in police custody and interrogating her at length about the nature of her prayers and thoughts.
  • That same day, Isabel was released on bail under the conditions that she couldn’t interact with local Catholic priest, Fr Sean Gough, nor could she attend or pray anywhere near the abortion facility, even beyond the PSPO restriction.
  • On 15 December 2022, after representations that these conditions were wholly disproportionate, unnecessary, and in breach of human rights, West Midlands Police varied the bail conditions to ensure the ban only applied to the PSPO-related restricted area.
  • On the same day, Isabel was charged with four counts of breaching the PSPO. All counts related to instances of silent prayer.
  • On 23 January 2023, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) informed Birmingham Magistrates’ Court that there was insufficient evidence to continue with a prosecution on all four counts.
  • On 16 February, Isabel pursued a court verdict and all the charges against her were dismissed by Birmingham Magistrates’ Court.
  • On 6 March, Isabel prayed silently, as she had done previously, and was again arrested. She received no explanation for why she was being arrested for the same conduct that CPS and the court had only just clarified to be within the law.
  • Isabel was again released on bail with the same unnecessary and disproportionate conditions that she challenged before, namely that she refrain from attending places outside the PSPO-restricted area. This prevented her from joining her prayer group during the ‘40 Days For Life’ vigil before Easter.
  • Isabel again had to challenge the bail conditions, arguing that they were disproportionate and being effected for an improper purpose.
  • On 6 April, West Midlands Police informed Isabel that the case had been referred to the local authority to consider prosecution.
  • On 14 April, West Midlands Police again conceded that the bail conditions were disproportionate and varied them to ensure the ban only applied to the PSPO-related restricted area.
  • On 31 May, West Midlands Police informed Isabel that the case was with the CPS to consider prosecution (rather than the local authority.)
  • On 5 June, West Midlands Police conceded that charity volunteer Isabel Vaughan-Spruce is now “permitted within the area” after three months of onerous bail conditions that prevented her from attending the censorship zone outside an abortion facility in Birmingham.
  • On 22 September, all of Isabel’s charges were dropped. West Midlands Police issued an apology for the length of time it took to conduct the investigation into her silent prayer within a “buffer zone”.

Remember this disturbing fact: Isabel has been prevented from attending a public space simply because she prayed, silently, and in her own mind.

Isabel was punished and her rights were restricted, despite a ‘not guilty’ verdict. Silent prayer should never be a crime in the UK.

In a free and democratic country, no one should be criminalised for prayer, let alone prayer conducted in the privacy of their own mind.