The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has its first debate in parliament this week. The bill has been widely condemned as an attack on freedom of assembly and protest. Its passage through parliament follows the heavy-handed policing of the vigil for Sarah Everard on Clapham Common on Saturday night (13/03/2021).
We have serious concerns about the bill. We want our students to help us do something about it.
The bill seeks to amend the Public Order Act 1986 by expanding the circumstances in which the police can impose restrictions on demonstrations. The police will now be able to restrict protest where ‘the noise generated by persons taking part in the procession may result in serious disruption to the activities of an organisation in the vicinity of the procession’. Restrictions could also be imposed if the ‘noise generated by persons taking part… may result in the intimidation or harassment of persons of reasonable firmness’ or ‘may cause such persons to suffer serious unease, alarm or distress’. In other words, the police can intervene to stop a protest if there is even a risk that people in the vicinity could be upset by the noise.
The bill is obviously an egregious attack on the freedom to protest. The threshold for intervening against protestors will become absurdly low. Demonstrations are supposed to cause ‘upset’ and ‘unease’. It is hard to imagine how any protest could be effective under these restrictions.
We want our students to join us in campaigning against the bill. We want to start with the following steps:
We will be in touch very shortly to ask you to get more involved in this campaign.
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