Lib Dems oppose the protest crackdown law

March 16, 2021 6:00 PM
By Rochdale Liberal Democrats
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

This week Liberal Democrat MPs will vote against the protest crackdown law.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is a mammoth 300 page piece of legislation.

The Conservatives' plans to crackdown on protests are dangerous and draconian.

There are some measures in the Bill that the Liberal Democrats support - such as the Police Covenant to make sure officers get the support they deserve, and changes to rules on disclosing criminal records to help with rehabilitation.

But other parts of the Bill are extremely concerning.

New laws in part 3 of the Bill would give police new powers to disrupt protests, marches and assemblies, make it easier to criminalise organisers and participants, and increase prison sentences for them.

  • Gives police powers to impose conditions on protests that are noisy enough to cause "intimidation or harassment" or "serious unease, alarm or distress" to bystanders.

  • Broadens the offence of failing to comply with police conditions on a protest - you would no longer have to "knowingly" disobey a direction, but only "ought to have known" the condition had been imposed.

  • Replaces the common law offence of public nuisance with a new statutory offence of "intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance", punishable by up to 10yrs in prison

These new laws undermine the right to peaceful assembly and protest

The Conservatives' plans to crackdown on protests are dangerous and draconian.

The appalling scenes on Clapham Common at the weekend only confirm this. They must force Priti Patel to think again.

The Met got it badly wrong in Clapham. A peaceful vigil highlighting violence against women ended in scenes of manhandled women. How on Earth can the Government think the answer is to give the police even more powers to clampdown on protests?

The right to peaceful assembly and protest is a fundamental human right, and has always been a crucial part of our democratic society.

These new laws undermine that right. They are part of the Conservative Government's anti-democratic attempts to silence any opposition to its policies, and the Liberal Democrats will fiercely resist them.