Controversial ‘Protests’ Bill passes parliamentary reading

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is legislation involving government proposals on crime and justice but its most controversial issue is its portion on protests.

Currently the police can place restrictions on a protest if they prove it may result in “serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to the life of the community”.

The bill takes it a step further as it is gives the police chiefs the authority to impose a start and finish time, set noise limits on protests and apply these rules to a demonstration by just one person.

Refusal to follow police directions over how protests should be conducted can result in fines of up to £2,500.

It will also now be considered a criminal action if protesters don’t obey restrictions that are considered common knowledge or that they ‘ought’ to have known even if not directly told so by the officer.

Many people did not take kindly to this bill being pushed forward, especially with the recent handling of the Sarah Everard vigils and protests.

Gemma Woods, a local activist and environmentalist, said: “After what happened last year with everyone hoping for some police reform to go through I don’t think anyone would have expected this.

“Why would giving more power to the police be the smart decision right now when people are really frustrated with how the world is going.”

Tyler Lim, a student and a LGBTQ+ activist, said: ‘I get why with the COVID restrictions the police may have some issues with handling things but I don’t see how denying people their right to protest would solve anything.’

Some supporters of the bill agree that watering it down with amendments is necessary but that it has the right intentions. The bill has currently passed its second reading in parliament.

Written by Tarun Murali

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