An MP asks “Ministers are criminalising protest”


Last Tuesday Joanna Cherry, the SNP MP asked an initial question under the headline of Coronation: Policing of Protests and her initial question was “Urgent Question): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will make a statement on the policing of protests during the coronation.” and the response came from Chris Philp who is a Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire. Joanna then asked a longer question which received another response and then later on in the debate Caroline Lucas, the Green MP from Brighton Pavilion asked a question which focused on the Ministers as criminalising and the initial sentence from Chris Philp was “I do not accept that analysis.” so here are the full question and the full answer. The whole debate involving all MPs can be obtained from here.

Caroline Lucas: The Minister just said that the right to peaceful protest is sacrosanct and no one would seek to undermine it, but I put it to him that that is exactly what his Government have just done: Ministers are criminalising protest. Just because some people were allowed to protest, that does not mitigate against the fact that a number were not. Let me just correct him: those who were arrested and kept in were not causing an obstruction, which is presumably why the police went to apologise to them afterwards. Does this not show that the powers the Government have handed to the police are dangerously broad and liable to gross misuse, as many of us have pointed out? I urge him again to review this legislation urgently.

Chris Philp: I do not accept that analysis. The powers are designed to prevent disruption where it might occur or where it is occurring. That includes things such as locking on, which we have seen cause huge disruption on the streets of London. The law allows peaceful protest where it is not disruptive and where people do not plan to cause disruption, which is why hundreds and hundreds of people, albeit a tiny minority of the total there, were able to protest peacefully. Where someone is preparing to commit or is committing a criminal offence, such as disrupting a procession, it is reasonable for the police to act.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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