The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will be brought back to the House of Commons later this month. Although Lords amendments stripped out some of the worst elements, it still criminalises protest.
Two clauses in particular are of concern.
Clause 55 will give police the powers to impose restrictions on a protest if it is noisy or might “result in serious disruption to the activities of an organisation” or cause “serious unease, alarm or distress” to a single passer-by.
Clause 75 would result in criminal penalties for protesters who simply are not aware of conditions imposed by police. This gives police the right to shut down protest and fine protesters for breaches that they “ought” to have known about. Previously prosecutors have had to prove that protesters had knowingly ignored police conditions. Protest organisers could face up to 51 weeks in prison.
CND General Secretary, Kate Hudson said:
“This Bill shows just how far the government is willing to go to push back our democratic right to protest.
“Questions of war and peace – of life and death – do have a huge mobilising power. The passing of these amendments would be disastrous. They would affect our ability to physically engage and assemble all those who oppose Britain’s nuclear weapons.
“Anti-nuclear campaigners have always used peaceful protest and non-violent direct action as an integral part to how we build support and get rid of nuclear weapons. CND will continue to actively support the Kill the Bill movement and work to defend our rights.”