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Briefing: The Public Order Bill - Lords Report Stage

The government is proposing a Public Order Bill (PO Bill) that would introduce further excessive restrictions on the rights to protest, following those already introduced in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act (the PCSC Act). The PO Bill contains provisions that the Government attempted to include in the PCSC Act but were rejected by the House of Lords in February 2022. Amnesty’s analysis of those provisions at the time was that they were so vague, undefined and open to subjective interpretation that they were likely to be unlawful from the outset, would seriously curtail human rights in this country and damage the UK’s international standing, potentially irreparably. The Bill itself fails the three-part test of legality, necessity and proportionality and therefore:

Amnesty urges Parliamentarians to oppose the PO Bill in its entirety and/or vote to mitigate its worst effects, including through:

- Supporting amendments to remove Serious Disruption Prevention Orders made on conviction and made otherwise than on conviction (clauses 19 and 20), in the names of Lord Ponsonby, Lord Paddick, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, and Baroness Chakrabarti

• Supporting amendments to remove protest-specific stop and search powers (clauses 10 and 11)

- Suspicion-based stop and search, in the names of Lord Paddick and Baroness Chakrabarti 

-Suspicion-less stop and search, in the names of Lord Coaker, Lord Paddick, and Baroness Chakrabarti

• Supporting amendment to remove the criminal offences of locking on and being equipped to lock on (clauses 1 and 2), in the names of Baroness Chakrabarti and Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb

• Voting against new government backed amendments in the names of Lord Hope, Lord Faulks and Lord Sharpe that would:

-Introduce offence-specific definitions of ‘serious disruption’ with extremely low thresholds, e.g. ‘more than minor’ hindrances to daily activities 

-Limit the scope of the reasonable excuse defence for certain new offences o Introduce three ‘more than minor’ disruption triggers to enable the police to preemptively impose conditions on, and potentially prevent, protests

Amnesty International UK Briefing Public Order Bill Lords Report Stage.pdf