CND condemns the new policing law. It targets peaceful demonstrators and aims to prevent protest. Key elements attack historic and peaceful methods used by anti-nuclear and climate campaigners – people who work to secure a peaceful and sustainable future for our planet.

The Public Order Act 2023, which gained royal assent on Tuesday and comes into effect today, broadens the scope in which police can arrest protesters, alongside draconian punishments including jail time and unlimited fines. These are laws akin to those of a police state, not a democracy. These include: 

  • Locking-on to objects or buildings is now an offence which can carry a six month prison sentence, unlimited fines, or both.
  • New police powers to use stop and search on people they suspect of intending to carry out peaceful disruption.
  • Those who block roads, railways, or airports can face sentences of up to 12 months’ imprisonment.

As former shadow Attorney General Shami Chakrabarti noted to The Guardian, government ministers have admitted that the offence of ‘locking-on’ – a tactic used by peaceful anti-nuclear activists for decades – “is so broad as to catch peaceful protesters who link arms in public.”

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said:

“Instead of getting to grips with the polycrisis afflicting this country, the government is instead riding roughshod over our civil liberties and the right to peaceful protest. From Greenham Common to blockading the DSEI arms fair or Britain’s nuclear weapons at Faslane or Aldermaston, locking-on is a time-honoured and effective tactic used by the peace movement to highlight the insanity of nuclear weapons and unjustness of war. Treating peaceful protesters with anti-terror tactics like this is akin to the policing measures of an authoritarian state, not a democracy.”

Photo credit: Faslane Action for Bomb Ban