Briefing on the Public Order Bill for the House of Lords Committee Stage
The UK government is proposing a Public Order Bill that would introduce further excessive restrictions on the rights to protest, following those already introduced in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2002 (the PCSC Act).
This briefing, circulated ahead of the Bill’s Committee Stage debate in the House of Lords, urges all Peers to oppose the Bill in its entirety.
Amnesty has long held the view that Police have a very broad range of existing powers at their disposal to deal with offences that may take place during a protest. We are concerned that the breadth of those powers already give scope for subjective over policing and potential abuse of those powers.
For example, in a chilling suppression of the rights of a free press, in November 2022, Hertfordshire Police arrested and detained three journalists for reporting on a number of environmental protests taking place. One female reporter from LBC radio was reportedly held in a police cell for five hours.
The arrest of journalists for reporting in these circumstances is a fundamental breach of universally held rights, which should serve as a chilling warning of the The Public Order Bill – Committee Stage Briefing, Lords dangers of increasing police powers in these areas and further undermines the credibility of the UK as a champion of media freedoms on the world stage.