Campaigning: Petitioning 10 Downing Street

A guide for those who work for an MP

Updated: 14 March 2009

Petitioning 10 Downing Street can be a simple and effective way of publicising a cause.

Presenting a petition

Presenting a petition to 10 Downing Street can provide an excellent photo opportunity and highlight a campaign in a way that could be attractive to your local press. It’s also a relatively simple thing to organise.

  • In the first instance, all petition requests go to have to go to the Downing Street Liaison Office on tel. 020 7321 8165 where all the details will be arranged. The Prime Minister never meets petitioners – even if they are cute children or war veterans.
  • Petitions are available 365 days a year, Monday to Sunday 0900 – 1800hrs, excluding Tuesday and Wednesday mornings up until 1230hrs (these might change if alterations are made to PMQ’s or Cabinet days etc and priority is always afforded to matters of State).
  • The Police will send you a form to complete and return to them.  They need at least five working days from receipt of the information on the forms, to make the necessary arrangements with Downing Street.
  • Up to six petitioners may come in a group but you will need to give their names to the Police in advance. MPs and Lords do not need to register in advance and are not included in the six.
  • Time slots for delivering petitions are allocated by the Police, so you will need to ask them which times are available.  The Police have a lot of people to accommodate, so if your desired time slot is not available, please be flexible.  The earlier you apply, the more chance you have of getting the time you want.
  • Any journalists or photographers who wish to attend should be properly NUJ accredited and will be counted in addition to the six petitioners allowed.
  • If the cause is worthwhile, try to get your MP into the picture.
  • Remember, your constituents have probably come a long way to petition the Prime Minister.  If you can, give them a short tour of the Palace and buy them a drink in the Terrace Cafeteria. Make them feel they have had a day out!

If Downing Street can’t accept the petition, they’ll write to you to explain why. You can the edit and resubmit your petition. Once it’s approved, you’ll be emailed and informed – usually within five working days.

Once your petition is live, you will be able to publicise the URL you chose when you created your petition, and anyone will be able to come to the website and sign it. They will be asked to give their name and address and an email address that can be verified. The system is designed to identify duplicate names and addresses, and will not allow someone to sign a petition more than once. Anyone signing a petition will be sent an email asking them to click a link to confirm that they have signed the petition. Once they have done this, their name will be added to the petition.

Your petition will show the total number of signatures received. It will also display the names of signatories, unless they have opted not to be shown.

When a serious petition closes, usually provided there are 200 signatures or more, officials at Downing Street will ensure you get a response to the issues you raise. Depending on the nature of the petition, this may be from the Prime Minister, or he may ask one of his Ministers or officials to respond.

Downing Street will email the petition organiser and everyone who has signed the petition via the website giving details of the Government’s response.