This bill, due to be debated in Parliament today includes the following:
The HMICFRS report, ordered by Patel following Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests, outlines a “need to develop” covert intelligence gathering methods and an expectation of increased use of facial recognition technology, despite a court of appeal ruling last year that its use in south Wales breached privacy rights and broke equalities law.
The report also supports expanding stop and search “to prevent serious disruption caused by protests”, amid concerns over discriminatory use of the power.
This week’s policing bill adds a further justification for the restrictions: noise. If the noise of the protest “may result in serious disruption to the activities of an organisation” – for instance by distracting employees in a nearby office, then the police can impose restrictions. It goes without saying that this applies to almost any protest at all around parliament, the whole purpose of which is to get the attention of politicians. It can therefore cause “serious disruption” of an organisation.
It also applies to passers-by. If the noise of the protest could have “a relevant impact on persons in the vicinity of the procession”, the police can impose restrictions. The standard for this threshold is very low indeed: If the police believe that just one person nearby could be caused “serious unease, alarm or distress”, they can impose restrictions.