Protests against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, mostly more or less ad hoc, continued on the weekend 3-4 April, almost a month after the Tories pushed the Bill through its first parliamentary vote on 9 March.
There’s talk of a national day of action on 17 April, but varied local protests are likely to continue too (best followed on Instagram).
The Bill limits the right to protest already hemmed in by the Public Order Act 1986 and the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. It increases criminal penalties for people who fall foul of police-imposed conditions, establishes new offences like “public nuisance”, and bans protests from a large area round Parliament. It would threaten people taking down statues like slaveowner Edward Colston’s in Bristol with ten years jail (maximum sentence at present: three months).
Two marches were held in London, the second one several thousand. There were some arrests late on in the second protest, after most people had left, but mostly the police were on the back foot.
Maybe two thousand protested in Bristol, where there have been two or more protests each week for a while now. Later on, about 10pm, some protesters blocked a motorway.
Around 300-400 marched in Newcastle, from one side of the city centre to the other and back again, without police being confident enough to intervene.
Sheffield also had 300-400. There were about 350 on the Northampton protest, about 300 in Liverpool.
Everywhere the demonstrations were mostly young, with a high proportion of women. Labour and trade-union contingents were few.
The government has set no date for the Bill to go to its next parliamentary stage, amendments in committee, and is under pressure to amend it before it returns to full parliamentary debate. The battle will continue to establish the right to protest, not just reduce the new restrictions, and activists will push unions and local Labour Parties to join it.