Stop police crushing protests – take action now

18 March 2021 — NetPol

Campaigners are demanding the National Police Chief’s Council stops cracking down on the right to protest. Will you join us?

The decisions to arrest organisers at the #ReclaimTheStreets protests weren’t made by the Home Secretary – it was made by senior officers in the Metropolitan Police. It was the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), not the High Court, which told police forces last week that they could not waive lockdown guidance and must make arrests any #ReclaimTheStreets vigils.

Most importantly it has been senior police officers who have lobbied for far-reaching new powers in the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill currently making its way through parliament. This is why just opposing this legislation is not enough. Parliament can give the police more powers, but it is police commanders who always take the operational decisions to enforce the law – how and when to severely restrict the ability to organise and participate in protests.

Time and again, the police have shown themselves utterly incapable of protecting our rights. From the violent response to black-led protests during the 2020 Black Lives Matter uprisings to the systematic targeting of organisers for harassment, surveillance and arrest, the police have consistently abused the powers they already have.

Parliament can give the police more powers, but it is police commanders who always take the operational decisions to enforce the law – how and when to severely restrict the ability to organise and participate in protests.

That’s why Netpol created the Charter for Freedom of Assembly Rights. With a coalition of other campaigners, we think it is time the police committed to respecting Britain’s existing human rights commitments by adopting the Charter  – or explained to the public why they refuse to do so.

We’re calling a day of online action on Friday 19 March. We’ll be contacting the National Police Chief’s Council to demand they adopt the Charter and respect the right to protest. Will you join us?

Sign up to the Netpol mailing list to receive easy-to-use email and tweet templates straight to your inbox.

You can join the action by downloading a copy of the Charter and emailing it to info@npcc.pnn.police.uk, and by tweeting @PoliceChiefs and using #FreedomToProtest.

There’s some template email text you can copy and reword:

TEMPLATE EMAIL

To the National Police Chief’s Council,

I am appalled by the recent decision to arrest women taking part in the Reclaim These Streets protest at Clapham Common. I am aware this decision was endorsed by and based on advice from the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

Time and again, I believe the police have shown themselves unable or unwilling to protect our rights to protest. That is why I urge the National Police Chief’s Council to adopt Netpol’s eleven-point Charter for Freedom of Assembly Rights. 

Developed in consultation with grassroots groups, and backed by a coalition of organisations, the Charter sets out what people taking part in protests have the right to expect from the police. The Charter includes the rights and freedoms that are already written into existing human rights standards and case law. 

You can read a full copy of the Charter at https://secureservercdn.net/50.62.198.70/561.6fe.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Charter-for-Freedom-of-Assembly-Rights.pdf 

I hope the NPCC is willing to adopt the Charter. If your organisation will not do so, please can you explain to me what your objections are to international human rights obligations?

Your faithfully,

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