Intro:

The Home Office has recently posed changes to the UK’s Laws surrounding protests and the right to protest. The government are planning to introduce these new measures as part of the Criminal Justice Bill. This comes in response to 4 protesters being cleared of criminal damage charges following the toppling of  a statute in Bristol in 2022.

The Specifics:

In particular, protesters wearing masks/face coverings could face arrest, up to a month in jail and a fine of £1,000. In addition, the possession of flares, fireworks at public assemblies for protest will become illegal. Perpetrators may have to to pay a £1,000 fine. Another change relates to climbing on public/national monuments, which is to become an offence, carrying a three-month sentence and £1,000 fine.   The government will remove the ability to use the right to protest as a lawful excuse to commit these crimes.

National Police Chiefs’ Chief Constable BJ Harrington had the following to say:

“As with all policing powers, these new powers will be used when appropriate, proportionate, and necessary to achieve policing objectives. […] Policing is not anti-protest, but there is a difference between protest and criminal activism, and we are committed to responding quickly and effectively to activists who deliberately disrupt people’s lives with reckless and criminal acts.”

Conclusion:

The Home Office state that since 7 October there have been more than 1,000 protests in the UK.  This has necessitated more than 26,000 police officer shifts assigned them between that date and 17 December. In this time, there have also been over 600 arrests at these protests. If by chance you are seeking assistance with criminal matters or public offences, we may be able to help. Find out how here.

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