An update of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, as the old legislation is no longer fit for purpose
Existing legislation that was passed in 1986 is no longer appropriate for the types of protests that we are experiencing in modern day life. Some highly disruptive tactics that are used by a small minority of protestors have caused impacts on communities, these measures will help improve police’s ability to manage protests to keep the public safe.
The five proposals that were made too Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) were as follows:
- widen the range of conditions that the police can impose on assemblies (static protests), to match existing police powers to impose conditions on processions
- lower the fault element for offences relating to the breaching of conditions placed on a protest of either kind
- widen the range of circumstances in which the police can impose conditions on protests (again, of either kind)
- replace the existing common law offence of public nuisance with a new statutory offence as recommended by the Law Commission in 2015
- create new stop, search and seizure powers to prevent serious disruption caused by protests.
HMICFRS said “concluded that, with some qualifications, all five proposals would improve police effectiveness without eroding the right to protest”.
These measures will not stop anyone’s right to protest but the police have to think about factors such as if any vulnerable groups are impacted, the duration and intensity of the impact from the protest and will have to think about the human rights of both sides to the protest.
This bill does not change anyone’s rights to not be able to peacefully protest outside parliament or freedom of expression. As an example, freedom of expression can only be taken away from a protestor if the protest encourages views of religious or racial hatred, this is because it protects the public at large.