Bristolians’ views on protests wanted for review to go before PM

Bristolians’ views on the Kill the Bill protests are wanted for research set to be presented to the Prime Minister and Home Secretary.

Lord Walney, the Government’s independent adviser on political violence and disruption, is calling on people in Bristol to let him know their thoughts on recent demonstrations in the city.

Bristol has hosted 12 demonstrations since March against the proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which would curtail people’s rights to peacefully protest. Some of those have involved physical confrontation between protesters and police.

(Image: John Myers)

John Woodcock, Baron Walney, said: “Bristol has been a centre of protest over the years and is obviously currently the site of the most sustained and disruptive ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstrations against the measures being proposed by the Government in the policing bill.

“So I hope Bristolians will contribute to my review for Boris Johnson and Priti Patel into political violence and most appropriate way to hold the right to protest in a democracy like ours.

“Much of the rest of the country has looked on in alarm at the recent clashes with police in Bristol, but what do you feel about the way the protests have unfolded in your city centre and the wider issue over proposed changes in demonstration laws that has sparked them? What are your views on the way the Edward Colston statue was pulled down last year?

John Woodcock, Baron Walney
John Woodcock, Baron Walney
(Image: PA Wire)

“Those who take part in protests have the right to be heard on these matters but so do the wider population of the city who opt not to take to the streets, so I hope residents with a wide array of perspectives will contribute to my call for evidence before it closes next week.”

Though the review is not directly linked to the proposed legislation, Lord Walney expects people’s responses to the online questionnaire to help inform the debate around the bill.

The former Labour MP for Barrow and Furness, now a peer, will examine the points at which the activities of “far-right, far-left and other political groups” can “cross intro criminality and disruption to people’s lives”.

His findings and recommendations will be presented to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel. Publication of the review will be subject to their approval.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is at the committee stage, which sees a committee consider the bill in detail and take evidence from experts and interest groups from outside of Parliament.

Once the committee reports back to the House of Commons its findings and any suggested amendments to the bill, there would be a third reading in the House of Commons.

Protesters at the Kill the Bill event on April 17 in Bristol

The entire process would then be repeated again in the House of Lords before any final amendments. The Queen would give royal assent to formally make it into law.

The bill would see police chiefs able to put more conditions on static protests, including imposing a start and finish time, and setting noise limits.

Refusal to follow police directions could result in a fine of up to £2,500, under the proposed changes. You can read more about the proposed legislation here.

You can respond to the online questionnaire for Lord Walney’s review here. The deadline for the consultation is 12pm on May 10.

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