Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
I understand your concerns about the proposed powers in relation to public protests within the Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Act. Freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are vital rights that I wholeheartedly support, and I can reassure you that the Government is clear that the right of an individual to express their opinion and protest is a cornerstone of our democratic society.
Under no circumstances should protests become violent; clearly the rights to peaceful protest do not extend to harassment, intimidating behaviour, or serious disruption to public order.
Of course, the responsibility for the maintenance of public order lies with the police. How they deploy their powers and the tactics they use is rightly an operational matter, but we must ensure that they have the right powers to manage protests appropriately.
We need to strike a balance between the rights of a protestor and those of individuals to go about their daily business. Some demonstrations have caused unjustifiable disruption and distress to other citizens for example, during the recent climate protests.
The PCSC Act aims to enhance the police’s ability to manage protests, to allow essential services to continue unabated and to ensure that the day-to-day lives of the overwhelming majority are not disrupted by a selfish minority.
Sally-Ann Hart MP