NHA Party Statement on the Anti- Dissent Powers in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021
The government is pushing through Parliament a wide-ranging Bill which contains draconian proposed powers to manage protests and demonstrations.
The Home Office factsheet refers to Extinction Rebellion protests, stating that the new Bill aims “specifically to deal with protests where people are not primarily violent or seriously disorderly but, as in this instance, had an avowed intent to bring policing to its knees and the city to a halt and were prepared to use the methods we all know they did to do that”
The document states that the Bill is about “managing highly disruptive protests causing serious disruption to the public”. Are we the only ones who are wondering why, when spoken by the likes of Dominic Cummings and the upper echelons of the NHS, a word like ‘disruptive’ is used to denote innovation?
The following sentence is chilling in several ways: “The Home Secretary will have the power, through secondary legislation, to define and give examples of “serious disruption to the life of the community” and “serious disruption to the activities of an organisation which are carried out in the vicinity of the procession/assembly/one-person protest”.
Not only will this mean Henry VIII powers in the hands of the Home Secretary, but it also means restrictions on static protests and even on one- person protests, especially if demonstrations noisily draw attention to the cause. We think we can safely assume this means the likes of Steve Bray whose cries of “Stop Brexit!” should have been heeded by the government. It also means NHS workers like Dr Meenal Viz who held a lone protest outside Downing Street in April 2020, demanding proper PPE. It means that all respectful and even silent NHS protests are under threat from the government.
Instead of penalising ordinary people who use one of the few ways available to them to highlight discrimination and government wrongdoing, the government needs to address and deal with the underlying issues, for example by making sure that Black Lives really Matter in the UK, and that the climate emergency is being addressed with the necessary urgency.
Please write to your MP urging them to oppose this awful Bill.
A draft email can be found here: https://r.ippl.es/mp-protest-rights/
Please also sign and share this petition "Do not restrict our rights to peaceful protest" https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/579012