provided by: Netpol
published: April/May 2021
The government’s new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is an unprecedented attack on the freedom to protest. We have to fight against this Bill. But we need more than opposition – that’s why we’re launching a new Charter For Freedom of Assembly Rights. Please sign the petition here >
For the last decade, successive governments have been increasingly hostile towards protests. This has been matched by the way the police have interpreted “peaceful” protest so that even minor breaches of the law are treated as invalidating the collective legitimacy of protesters’ demands, justifying even more aggressive tactics and more surveillance.
Backed by a coalition of other organisations, Netpol’s Charter for Freedom of Assembly Rights sets out what people taking part in protests have the right to expect from the police. The Charter calls for:
- Proper protections – not more restrictions – for the right to protest. This includes an end to treating direct action and civil disobedience as an excuse to shut down protests completely.
- An end to routine surveillance of protesters. This includes strict limitations on the use of police video recording, use of facial recognition, and surveillance of social media sites used by campaigners.
- An end to the excessive use of force and the targeting of organisers for arrest, surveillance and punishment. Black-led protests in particular disproportionately face excessive and violent interventions by police.
- An end to targeting the most vulnerable. The police have a particular duty to protect the rights of young people, vulnerable and disabled people wishing to exercise their rights to freedom of assembly.