New draconian bill to increase police protest powers

Sunday, 22 May 2022 — NetPol

Netpol releases explainer to the new Public Order Bill

Netpol has released an explainer on the new draconian Public Order Bill. It basically revives the amendments that were defeated in the Police, Crime and Sentencing Act in the Lords and puts them in new bill.

New offences include locking on, going equipped for locking on and obstructing key infrastructure. Like the PCSC Act, the bill is vaguely worded: terms like what constitutes actions “capable of causing serious disruption” are open to abuse by the police.

The bill also introduces a new stop and search power for protest-related offences. If this wasn’t bad enough, it also expands Section 60 suspicionless searches for these offences if a senior officer believes serious disruption is going to occur.class=”mcnTextContentContainer” width=”100%” border=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ cellpadding=”0″ align=”left”>This will be used to target anyone who looks like a protester. It is of particular concern for people from marginalised communities who already bear the brunt of racist policing.

Perhaps even more worryingly is the introduction of Serious Disruption Prevention Orders. These orders can ban people from meeting certain people, ban them using the internet for political activities and ban them going to certain places.

You don’t even need to be convicted of an offence to get an order. Breaching an order can land you with six months in jail and it can be enforced with electronic tagging.

These orders are likely to be used against anyone the police perceive as an organiser and are a massive threat to our right to protest and to organise dissent.
Read: Netpol’s explainer on the Public Order Bill

Victory for Bristol riot defendant!

People are continuing to face the courts in Bristol on riot charges following the uprisings that took place on 21 March 2021.

But everything is not going the state’s way. Juries are seeing the footage of the police brutality of the night and the reality of what protesters had to face. Kadeem Yarde was found not guilty of riot and violent disorder after the jury found that he acted in self-defence.

Two other recent trials have resulted in hung juries. Jasmine Yorke was also acquitted of riot earlier in the year after the jury saw footage of her being attacked by the police and bitten by a police dog.

As a statement from the Bristol Anti-Repression Campaign says, “despite these verdicts, we still rage at the imprisonment and punishment for our friends who stood up to police brutality last year. Too many people are already locked up, awaiting trial or sentencing. We won’t ever forget either how many protesters were seriously injured by the police last year”.

Trials are continuing throughout the summer. You can support those already in prison by writing to them.

Expansion of stop and search powers

Priti Patel announced this week that restrictions imposed on Section 60 stop and search powers have been lifted. The limited restrictions were imposed by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary for good reason. S60 is a discriminatory power used to target Black communities by an institutionally racist police force.

According to figures from 2019, Black people are 40 times more likely to be stopped and searched under S60 than white people. Despite S60’s purpose to supposedly prevent violent crime, government data revealed that 99% of searches under S60 did not lead to an arrest for weapons in the year ending 31 March 2020.

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