Every police force in England and Wales has been ordered to gather intelligence on groups that may be planning protests in the coming weeks, according to The Times. The order, which comes from The Home Office, was prompted by the riot in Bristol on Sunday evening.
The government confirmed yesterday, that the temporary ban on protests, which was brought in to stop the spread of coronavirus, will be lifted on Monday. As a result of this, The Home Office is expecting a surge in protests around the country.
Police believe that more protests are planned for Bristol and London. Tensions are high in Brighton too. Speaking to The BBC, Clifford Stott, who chairs a sub-group of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) which advises the government on security threats said:
“The next few weeks will be the most challenging of the pandemic. The warmer weather, the duration of the lockdown, increasing dissatisfaction among sections of the community about the imposing of control measures will all feed into situations where public assembly is going to be more likely.”
Following the events in Bristol, The Home Office told all police forces in England and Wales to gather information on planned protests in their area.
The government wants to impose severe restrictions on protests and hand unprecedented powers to police forces to enable them to shut them down.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, if it passes, would allow the police,
- Impose a start and finish time
- Set noise limits
- Apply these rules to a demonstration by just one person
It will also be a crime (if the bill passes), to fail to follow restrictions the protesters “ought” to have known about, even if they haven’t received a direct order from an officer.
Mercifully, the Labour Party has indicated that it will vote against the bill. Tory backbenchers have said they’ll rebel and vote against it too.