The Conservatives’ plans to crackdown on protests are dangerous and draconian.
The appalling scenes on Clapham Common at the weekend only confirm this.
The Liberal Democrats will fiercely resist anti-democratic attempts to silence protest.
This is why I wrote yesterday to Weston’s MP asking him to vote against the Government on this crucial piece of legislation.
I am writing to you to express my concerns about the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and to request that you vote against its passage.
This bill contains unacceptable restrictions on the right to protest.
Allowing restrictions to be imposed on protests that could create noise, disrupt an organisation or cause nearby people “serious unease alarm or distress”. This gives the police the reason to shut down a protest on the basis of just one person’s response – Section 54 (2) and (3)Allowing the police to intervene in a protest to prevent “impact”, despite this being the very purpose of a protest – Section 54 (2)Allows prosecutions where protests “ought to know” of restrictions in place rather than requiring the police to inform and engage unaware protestors prior to making arrests – Section 56 (5)Allows for a maximum sentence of 10 years for causing “serious annoyance” – Section 59.
Among these provisions and numerous other draconian measures, restricting people’s civil liberties, are provisions for the Secretary of State to “make provision about the meaning” of “serious disruption”. This allows the Secretary of State to impose their will, under the pretext of interpretation of the law, and avoid parliamentary scrutiny.
This bill comes mere days after the suppression of a protest that drew condemnation from across the political spectrum. Voting for this bill on Monday expresses a belief that the police should have more powers to act in that way and indeed to go further.
Cllr Patrick Keating