The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (PCSC)

The bill, announced last week, includes plans to “strengthen police powers to remove our right to peaceful protests, if a peaceful protest, even by a single person can be held by the police to be significant disruptive effect on the public or on access to Parliament. 

Is England becoming a Fascist State…in the answer lays our fate 

The Conservative Government voted the bill following it second reading yesterday.

Lets not forget, the Labour Party had intended to whip its MP’s to abstain and allow the Bill through. That position only changed once the events of policing at Clapham Common cause public outrage. 

The Government and the police are telling us the changes are necessary. We must reject this lie as the police already have far too many powers. We must call it for what it is, a further step to remove our right to protest, it is a move closer towards the creation of a fascist state.  

Removal of civil rights, attack on democracy, creating the Fascist State

The protest and public order provisions of the PCSC Bill (clauses 54-60) 

Clauses 54 to 60 of the PCSC Bill contain a series of measures that seek to clamp down on public assemblies and processions. 

Let’s be clear these clauses represent a serious and significant assault on civil liberties and democratic rights, they will have a chilling effect on our right to protest, and result in the disproportionate criminalisation of peaceful activity.

Imposition of conditions

Clauses 54 and 55 amend sections 12 and 14 respectively of the Public Order Act, which deal with public processions and public assemblies. These raise two grounds for concern – 

  1. they significantly expand the police’s ability to place conditions on the right to public processions and assemblies and
  2. they leave entirely open what those conditions can be. 

Taking them in turn, the clauses first introduce a new trigger for the conditioning of protest–

If the protest is noisy and could cause “serious disruption to the activities of an organisation which are carried on in the vicinity of the procession” or if the noise is such that there may be a “relevant” and “significant” impact on persons in the vicinity. You risk being arrested

These are incredibly broad in their scope, and liable to misuse and misinterpretation by the police. 

The provisions as formulated contravene international human rights norms, which suggest that our rights under Article 11 must be protected even if they cause a certain level of disruption to ordinary life

“any demonstration in a public place inevitably causes a certain level of disruption to ordinary life… and that it is important for the public authorities to show a certain degree of tolerance towards peaceful gatherings if the freedom of assembly guaranteed by Article 11 of the Convention is not to be deprived of all substance.”

The wording of the relevant clauses would capture nearly every protest and justify police restrictions in nearly every case. In effect BANNING PROTEST

This WILL significantly shift the balance of power from the people to the police.

People will effectively be allowed to protest freely and without conditions only if the police choose to let them.

The most truly shocking aspect of these new ‘noise’ provisions is that they go as far as to suggest that the noise generated by persons taking part in assemblies/processions could amount to a relevant impact on persons in the vicinity, so not at the protest but in the area of the protest.

Police will have to make judgments on whether, for example, specific chants may be considered ‘intimidating’ or ‘harassing’ and what the intensity of the impact of any noise is. 

Further, the words ‘unease’, ‘alarm’ and ‘distress’ are so vague in this context they leave the door open for misuse and misinterpretation by the police.

Power Grab and by the Secretary of State

Clauses 54(4) and 55(6) give the Home Secretary unrestricted powers to make regulations to define what the phrases “serious disruption to the activities of an organisation which are carried on in the vicinity” or “serious disruption to the life of the community”. 

This broad power can be exercised with little or no parliamentary scrutiny, and in ways that would expand the scope of the powers under the Bill once passed.

The practice of this Tory Government giving itself power to make major policy changes has already been subject to considerable criticism in other contexts. 

We must all have significant concerns that the powers will be misused  by the police and the State to stifle dissent and target specific protests. 

Our Rights in Law

Expression (Article 10) and freedom of peaceful assembly (Article 11) are closely guarded under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

It is important that these rights are given meaningful effect. Protests can and must be protected even if they have the potential for causing inconvenience. Any restrictions must be necessary in a democratic society and must respond to a pressing social need and not merely be ‘useful’ or ‘desirable’.

Working Class unity.

We, the people, are losing our civil, political, and democratic rights, the British Government has repeatedly shown it is willing to breach international law.

We, the people, are approaching the tipping point, where the British Government will fully embrace fascism. In such circumstances we, the people, must look to history as to how fascism was defeated. 

We, the people have long set out our position of ‘never again’, the time is coming when those who have stated such a position will have to choose between freedom or collaboration.

The working class must unify and set about developing a campaign of civil disobedience.

Now more than ever, the working class must look towards and call upon the Labour Movement, the Trade Union Movement and Grass Root Community Groups to organise and resist these sinister fascist laws. 

Which side are you on, which side are you on

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