Wednesday briefing: ‘Serious concerns’ about police protest guidelines

Wed, 24 March 2021, 6:29 am

<img src="–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/–~B/aD02MDA7dz0xMDAwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/; alt="<span>Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA
Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA

Top story: ‘Kill the Bill’ – 14 arrests at new Bristol protest

Hello, Warren Murray bringing you the first news of the day.

Guidance to England and Wales police on how to handle protests may breach human rights obligations, according to campaigners. Material from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and College of Policing (COP) appears to use a definition of unlawful protest that could include boycotting a shop or silently taking a knee. The Good Law Project and Stop Funding Hate have expressed “serious concerns” and urged that the guidance be made public. According to a report from the policing inspectorate, police chiefs use a definition of “aggravated activism” as “activity that seeks to bring about political or social change but does so in a way that involves unlawful behaviour or criminality, has a negative impact upon community tensions, or causes an adverse economic impact to businesses”. Jolyon Maugham from the Good Law Project said: “What does this mean for the right to protest against slavery in supply chains? Or against the polluters who are destroying the planet? Or, indeed, for the right to strike?”

Overnight, police have dispersed demonstrators in Bristol and made 14 arrests, two days after another protest there descended into rioting. Avon and Somerset police said about 130 people gathered and were moved off College Green by 11pm but arrests were made when some remained on Deanery Road and refused to leave. Police investigating the riot that marred the peaceful “Kill the Bill” protest in Bristol on Sunday have released images of 10 people they wish to trace. Seven men, aged between 20 and 44, were arrested on suspicion of violent disorder. A man from the Bedminster Down area of Bristol has appeared in court and denied a charge of possessing an offensive weapon. Sunday’s initially peaceful gathering was a demonstration against the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill.

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