Campaign launch: Defend Dissent and resist new police powers!

Thursday, 5 May 2022 — Netpol

It’s time to get organised!

Over a year after it was first introduced, and in spite of widespread opposition and public demonstrations against its draconian measures, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act has finally become law in England and Wales.

We know from experience that the police abuse the powers they already have. So how will they use their new powers? And how can we all take action to defend dissent?

Netpol’s new campaign is developing resources for campaigners and those likely to be most impacted by this authoritarian legislation.

The government has introduced these new powers to crack down on protest. We need to make sure people have the tools to keep themselves safe and to challenge the use of these new powers on the streets and in the courts.

Read: Netpol’s Get organised to Defend Dissent page

Know your rights!

Knowing our rights will be more important than ever once the police start using the powers in this Act. For example, the maximum penalty for highway obstruction will increase from a fine to a maximum of six months imprisonment on 12 May.

Many of the new powers in the Act are poorly defined, with the Home Secretary having powers to regulate the meaning of “serious disruption”. In practice, the police themselves will often be able to decide when and how to impose conditions, opening the door for widespread abuse.

Netpol has produced a short overview of the new powers in the Act. More detailed information and a briefing from Green and Black Cross will be available soon.

Read and share our briefing on the new powers.

Resist surveillance!

It’s more important than ever that we resist police surveillance. We need better protection for the members of our movements most likely to face such targeting – and a greater awareness of the basic security practices which can help us challenge police intelligence gathering.

Read: Netpol’s guide to police surveillance

Challenge police powers

Netpol is planning to challenge the use of these new powers. But we need your help. We need your stories and testimonials to do this.

If the police attempt to use their new powers to impose noise restrictions during a demonstration or in advance, we want to know: at what point the noise is deemed excessive? Who will police officers target for arrest for noise they say causes disruption?

We also do not yet know how, in practice, protesters “ought to know” police have placed conditions on a protest that they can then be arrested for violating.class=”mcnTextContentContainer mceItemTable” style=”cursor: default; border: 1px dashed #bbbbbb;” border=”0″ width=”100%” cellspacing=”0″ cellpadding=”0″ align=”left”>With ample evidence that the policing of protests organised by racialised communities is more often confrontational and likely to lead to arrests, we also need to highlight how the use of new powers reinforces institutionally racist assumptions about what is “disruptive” or “noisy”.

Please contact Netpol if you encounter noise conditions on your protest, are arrested under the new ‘public nuisance’ laws, or if you are told by police that they’re using Section 12 or 14 of the Public Order Act to put conditions on your protest.

Keep each other safe

Now more than ever we need to act in solidarity with each other. We can’t be divided into good and bad protesters – or those who take part in ‘legal’ or ‘illegal’ actions.

With a huge amount of discretion allowed to the police in how they use these powers, we can expect to see the racism and prejudices of the police exposed once again. That’s why it’s vital that we support each other and are prepared to respond to police targeting with practical knowledge and solidarity.class=”mcnTextContentContainer mceItemTable” style=”cursor: default; border: 1px dashed #bbbbbb;” border=”0″ width=”100%” cellspacing=”0″ cellpadding=”0″ align=”left”>
Our strength lies in not being divided and the power of collective solidarity.

Look out for Netpol Action Alerts with calls for support and solidarity for campaigners who are targeted by these powers.

Support our work and donate to Netpol!

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