Freedom to Protest: Resist the Police Bill

Still not law...

On 5 July the House of Commons passed the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Conservative MP David Davies warned the Bill posed "grave threat to the fundamental right to protest" but then voted against an amendment to remove the clause on restricting protest.

The Bill will now be debated in the House of Lords in September. You can contact members of the House of Lords about the Bill, more details on how to do that below.

What's it about?

When you think of people protesting for an important cause, having an impact, what do you picture? Whatever you thought of, it would probably fall foul of Priti Patel's Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which contains sweeping and arbitrary powers to restrict and criminalise protest on the basis of ‘noise’ or ‘annoyance’, including a maximum 10 year sentence. 

The threshold for prosecuting someone for breaching police conditions imposed on a protest is reduced in the Bill, so that the individual merely "ought to have known" about the conditions' existence, rather than knowingly breaching them, as is the case currently. This places the burden on protesters to find out about such conditions and on organisers to make them known. As a result, many will avoid attending or organising a protest for fear of arrest for breaching a condition that they were unaware of and receiving a criminal record - a chilling effect on protest.

As David Lammy stated in the House of Commons, "By giving the police the discretion to use these powers some of the time, it takes away our freedom all of the time."

The Bill would criminalise the way of life of Gypsy and Traveller communities, also restricting protest camps and deter access to the countryside. This bill would significantly restrict the kind of peaceful protest that was essential in communities resisting - and defeating - fracking.

The Bill was voted through by the House of Commons on Tuesday, with MPs having been given just a week to consider it. It was due to go straight on to Committee Stage, but this has now been delayed until after Easter. This is a direct result of the size of the backlash, putting ministers on the back foot. It is crucial that we keep the pressure up through all means - protests, raising awareness, petitions and lobbying.

Charter for Freedom of Assembly Rights

Campaign against Climate Change supports Netpol's Charter for Freedom of Assembly Rights, which would bring UK policing of protest in line with international guidelines. A petition in support of the Charter and against the Police Bill has so far gathered over 200,000 signatures.

Resources and Campaign Actions

Template motion opposing the Bill

NEW: Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights

Posters (download to print A4/A3)  - We defend our right to protest climate destruction

Open letter to the Home Secretary - you can add your name here or sign up as an organisation/campaign group here.

Full Liberty briefing on the Bill

Briefing for MPs (Good Law Project)

Open meeting: Resist the Police Crime Bill video recording

Petition on the Parliament website

Report on the House of Commons debate 'Freedom dies in silence'

Lobbying

Written to your MP already? You can also write to a member of the House of Lords

When the Bill gets to the House of Lords, it is vital that they are well informed about the threats it poses and the strength of public feeling against it. 

The 'Write to Them' website allows you to find a connection with a Lord via a place, e.g. former MP.

This list of members of the House of Lords also lets you research their interests

Members of the House of Lords do not have staff to manage their emails and mass identikit emails are likely to be counterproductive.

  • Be polite
  • Be informative. You can use the resources above, including the Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights of MPs and peers which raises serious concerns about the Bill
  • Take into account who you are writing to (Conservative / Labour / Crossbench, what their interests are),
  • Explain why this is important to you

Lobbying

Written to your MP already? You can also write to a member of the House of Lords

When the Bill gets to the House of Lords, it is vital that they are well informed about the threats it poses and the strength of public feeling against it. 

The 'Write to Them' website allows you to find a connection with a Lord via a place, e.g. former MP.

This list of members of the House of Lords also lets you research their interests

Members of the House of Lords do not have staff to manage their emails and mass identikit emails are likely to be counterproductive.

  • Be polite
  • Be informative. You can use the resources above, including the Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights of MPs and peers which raises serious concerns about the Bill
  • Take into account who you are writing to (Conservative / Labour / Crossbench, what their interests are),
  • Explain why this is important to you
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