Across the UK, protests continue in response to a crime bill that imposes serious restrictions on the right to protest, many of these resulting in scuffles between police and protesters.

Over the weekend, yet another protest occurred as over 150 people gathered in Cathedral Square, Worcester in response to the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill.

The protest began as a socially distanced and peaceful one at 1pm and lasted for half an hour as speakers from each group took turns speaking and holding up signs which said things like ‘Protest is vital for change’  ‘Kill the Bill’ and ‘We won’t be silenced.’

A Protestor holding a sign “Fight today for a better tomorrow” (copyright free photo from Pexels)

Protesters chanted ‘Democracy matters’ as they marched through the streets. Black Lives Matter, Sarah Everard and Women Matter were also themes mentioned by the activists.

Unlike previous protests, no single person or organisation came forward as the organisers and groups differing from the Socialist Party, Black Lives Matter and the Extinction Rebellion all appeared.

In London, there were fights between police and protesters in Parliament Square after thousands paraded in opposition to the bill from Hyde Park, leading to over 20 arrests.

A protestor holding a sign “March against corruption” (copyright free image from Pexels)

Protesters had gathered outside parliament to hear speeches opposed to the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill, then continued to block the road.

The bill passed its second reading in parliament last month. It aims to change existing public order legislation to make it easier for police to ban and shut down peaceful protests if they are considered too disruptive or likely to lead to disorder.

Opponents of the bill have called it an attack on the right to protest and people’s freedom of speech, which is a dangerous step towards authoritarianism.

They warn that in combination with the new laws, it gives agents of the state licence to commit crimes whilst undercover and shifts the judicial system, the balance of power is being tipped towards the authorities, eroding individual freedoms.

Protestors carrying cardboard signs,
Protestors carrying Black Lives Matter signs (copyright free photo from Pexels)

For example, the police would be allowed to set time and noise limits on gatherings.

Protesters who do not follow restrictions they ‘ought’ to know about, even if they have not had a direct order from an officer, would be in danger of prosecution.

Many of these protests are organised via social media and we will be checking throughout the day to see if another is planned to go ahead during the week.