Freedom to Protest: Resist the Police Bill

1 May 

National Day of Action, more info to follow, email stopthepolicebill@gmail.com if your organisation would like to support

17 April

National Day of Action. To find your local protest, search #killthebill + location on social media

Bath, 2pm Bath Abbey; Birmingham, 2pm Victoria Square; Brighton, tbc The Level; Bristol, 2pm College Green; Cardiff, 2pm Bute Park Stone Circle; Cheltenham, 2pm Magistrates Court; Cambridge, 1pm Parkers Piece; Cornwall, 1.30 mass tresspass at Carbis Bay; Guildford, 1pm, High Street by Holy Trinity Church; Haverfordwest, 1pm Picton Fields; Lancaster, 6pm Dalton Square; Leeds, 2pm Sunday, Hyde Park, Lincoln, 2pm High Street; London, 1pm meet Wellington Arch, march to Parliament; Manchester, 1pm St Peter’s Square; Oxford, 2pm Bonn Square; Plymouth, 2pm Charles Cross Police Station; Reading, 2pm Forbury Gardens; Sheffield, 1pm Devonshire Green; Southampton, 2pm O2 Guildhall Square; Swindon, 2pm Regents Circus; Winchester, 1pm police station on High Street; York, 1pm, Parliament Street

To be updated, but note the list above is not exhaustive and is drawn from social media so do double check times and places yourself!

NEW: Poster - We defend our right to protest climate destruction (download to print A4/A3) plus social media image

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

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 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. If you have time to do more than sign a petition, this is something you could help with.

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. However there are several weeks at least before the Bill reaches the Lords, so there is time to write email(s) that are clear, thoughtful and take into account who you are writing to (Conservative / Labour / Crossbench, what their interests are), includes links to evidence and why you believe this issue is so critical to our democracy, will help push back against the Bill.

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