Ex-police chief says people should be 'really worried' about new anti-protest laws
The former Chief Constable labels new anti-protest laws as "rushed" and "dodgy"
An ex-police chief for the Greater Manchester Police spoke to Times Radio on Monday regarding the recently proposed, 307-page bill that, effectively, cracks down on people's right to protest.
Sir Peter Fahy, who served the police force for 34 years, was quick to point out that "the right to protest, the right to gather, the right to have a voice is fundamental to our democracy". Here's an extended clip of his interview:
"Rushed legislation and unclear definitions cause huge confusion."
Sir Peter Fahy, the former Chief Constable of Greater Machester Police, says that dodgy definitions are a threat to the right to protest.
Listen 🔊 https://t.co/CurzK2WxfX@AasmahMir | @StigAbell | @peter1fahy pic.twitter.com/rPUOXDiruj
— Times Radio (@TimesRadio) March 15, 2021
It isn't a stretch to call this bill what it is: an extremely draconian piece of legislation that provides the government and police with loosely defined guidelines for breaking up protests based not just on conduct, but numbers and even noise levels. Put simply, if a peaceful sit-in is deemed too loud, it can be dispersed.
Despite having abstained from opposing legislature that essentially exempted law enforcement from being prosecuted for criminal acts like torture, rape and murder last year, Keir Starmer's Labour is set to vote against the bill in the Commons today.
It all feels too little too late, unfortunately.
The latest revisions on the Police and Crime Bill come after what can and should only be described as a vigil turned peaceful protest following the death of Sarah Everard. Police cancelled the official vigil in Clapham and went on to interfere with a peaceful demonstration that ended in five arrests.
It was a damning indictment of the current state of policing and priorities in the UK, followed by an even less tactful government proposal.
Fahy went on to say that the language used in the document is problematic and that "dodgy definitions" used in this “rushed legislation [...] causes huge confusion for the public and for the police having to enforce it".
The groundwork for this bill is believed to have been laid in the wake of the Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion protests, though it's no surprise that little has been made of the far-right, anti-lockdown, anti-mask protests that occurred around the same time.
Fahy closed his interview by saying, “This weekend has shown the crucial importance of the right to protest and you’ve got to be really wary of more legislation being rushed through just because certain politicians didn’t like certain demonstrations in the summer”.