New bill which restricts demonstrations and protests being debated by MPs

New bill which restricts demonstrations and protests being debated by MPs

MPs are currently debating Priti Patel’s controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which will give police more powers to restrict protests and demonstrations.

This comes after the Sarah Everard vigil in Clapham Common, London at the weekend, in which women were handcuffed and arrested by officers.

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

Police need to be able to show that protesters knew they had been told to move on, before it can be said that they have broken the law.

However, the new bill aims to allow police chiefs to impose a start and finish time on protests and set noise limits. These new rules, if approved, will also apply to a demonstration by just one person.

Additionally, the proposed law includes an offence of “intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance”. This is to stop people occupying public spaces, hanging off bridges, or using other protest tactics to make themselves seen and heard.

Another offence set out in the bill is the damage to memorials, which will carry up to 10 years in prison.

It will also become illegal to not follow restrictions that protesters “ought” to have known about, even if they have not received a direct order from a police officer.

When put into practice, if someone is holding a placard and shouting through a speaker, they could be fined up to £2,500 if they refuse to follow police directions.

The right to protest and express yourself is included in the Human Rights Act, but protests can still be limited by the new bill if police believe they have “good reason” to do so.

Although The Home Office insists the new proposals will respect human rights, some MPs and public figures are speaking out against the bill.

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