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Home Secretary Cracks Down On Protests

"Priti Patel Covid-19 Press Conference 25/04" by UK Prime Minister is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Home Office has published a new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that attempts to tone down all protests.

On Tuesday, the Home Secretary Priti Patel published a Bill from the Home Office with the intention of changing the law around the ability to protest.

It came after Patel announced: “Protesting in the way that people did last summer was not the right way at all.”

The policing Bill will amend the Public Order Act 1986, which says that if it is believed that a demonstration risked “serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to the life of the community”, restrictions could be imposed upon it.

This week’s policing Bill adds further justification in terms of noise pollution. If the noise of the protest “may result in serious disruption to the activities of an organisation” – for instance, by distracting employees in a nearby office – then the police can impose restrictions.

Furthermore, if the noise of the protest could have “a relevant impact on persons in the vicinity of the procession”, the police will be able to impose restrictions.

This makes almost all political demonstrations illegal in some way and the police have the ability to stop and even arrest all those who are performing in any type of demonstration that may break the new rules.

As the definition of “serious disruption” was left out of the Bill, the police and home office have a broad spectrum they can use to stop protests, with little ability for others to scrutinise their actions.