Police To Receive New Powers To Shut Down Protests

The government plans to give police new powers to shut down protests that cause serious disruption. Downing street sources say the proposals would help officers to clamp down on “a disruptive minority” who use tactics like blocking roads.

According to the BBC:

It said the changes seek to give police greater flexibility and clarity over when they can intervene.

But human rights group Liberty said the proposals amounted to an attack on the right to protest.

The plans will be set out in an amendment to the Public Order Bill, due to be introduced on Monday.

The bill, which covers England and Wales, is making its way through Parliament and any changes would have to be approved by MPs and peers.

Its aim is to crack down on disruptive protests by groups like environmental activists Just Stop Oil, Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion, which have used tactics including blocking roads.

No 10 said the changes would mean police would not have to wait for disruption to take place to shut down a protest.

It said forces could also consider the “total impact” of a series of protests by the same group, rather than seeing them as standalone incidents.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “The right to protest is a fundamental principle of our democracy, but this is not absolute. A balance must be struck between the rights of individuals and the rights of the hard-working majority to go about their day-to-day business.

“We cannot have protests conducted by a small minority disrupting the lives of the ordinary public. It’s not acceptable and we’re going to bring it to an end.”

Chief Constable BJ Harrington, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for public order and public safety, said: “This will support officers in confidently and quickly taking action and making arrests where appropriate.

“Policing is not anti-protest, but there is a difference between protest and criminal activism, and we are committed to responding quickly and effectively to activists who deliberately disrupt people’s lives through dangerous, reckless, and criminal acts.”


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