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Thread: Proposed police bill

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2005

    Proposed police bill

    Me to Kerr

    I have read much of it as it happens Kerr and thanks for highlighting the worrying aspects. How would you define "reasonable belief"? Whose reasonable belief? Who will be making that decision? the Home Secretary? Are you happy to Priti to have these powers?

    Similarly, "the noise generated by persons taking part in the procession may result in..." The noise? What even peaceful demonstration takes place without noise? How is that not likely to "result in serious disruption" to nearby activities, if it is noise that worries affected organisations? I think we can agree with the "may result in the intimidation and harassment" part of the wording but "may cause such persons to suffer serious unease, alarm or distress". Frankly, any organised demosntration, even peaceful, is likely to cause some people "unease". Effectively the bill gives the police, and by extension, any government the powers to put a stop to any organised protest that they find inconvenient to them.

    I notice that you didn't include the even more frightening part of legislation wrapped up in the bill: The new statutory offence of Public Nuisance provides for a maximum sentence of 10 years for anyone who does an act that, intentionally or recklessly, causes serious harm to the public or puts them at risk of such harm. The proposed definition of ‘serious harm’ includes where person suffers ‘serious annoyance, serious inconvenience or serious loss of amenity’.

    Serious annoyance? A person taking part in a protest can be criminalised for 'annoying' somebody, in the eyes of an arresting officer. Really?

    This goes for any protest by the way, including those whom I personally disagree with. We hear much made from people on here about the right to express your views being taken away, but very little about this.

    Regarding people breaking laws in unlawful protest, we already have laws that cover this don't we? What does this bill bring to the table that wasn't already in existence?

    So having carefully scrutinised the bill yourself, are you in favour of it?

    Kerr's Reply

    If you have read the bill, why did you suggest to Grist that he would not be able to protest about Brexit and why are you asking me who would make the 'reasonable belief' decision? Surely you would know that the first point was inccurate and would know the answer to the second...

    The term 'reasonable belief' appears in numerous pieces of legislation and has its ordinary and natural meaning. I can't recall arguing the point, but I have argued upon the similar question of 'reasonable ground to suspect', and my starting point would be that it means an honestly held belief reached upon an objective assessment of all relevant information.

    What would you prefer? That decisions be made on arbitrary grounds or unreasonable beliefs?

    And if you are upset about the 'reasonable belief' concept, why aren't you upset about the current powers to impose conditions upon public assembly, which also uses 'reasonable belief' with that decision being made by the same person as in the new proposals - i.e. a 'senior police officer? That has been the position ever since the enactment of the Public Order Act 1986 and I suspect that it also appears in some format in the predecessor to that act, which was the Public Order Act 1936 (which was enacted to assist in the policing of the British Union of Fascists, so probably okay with you).

    I love the way that you correctly refer to 'serious unease' and then quickly switch it to just 'unease' to make your point. It wasn't very subtle and that you had to do it demonstrates the weakness of your argument

    I guess it comes down to this, you are okay with demonstrations causing serious unease to people in its vicinity, whereas I am not. Similarly you believe that it is okay for demonstrations to be held in a place, time and manner such that the noise of it causes serious disruption to the legitimate activites of nearby organisations whereas I don't.

    I believe that a balance has to be struck between the right to protest and the rights of people to feel safe and secure and able to go about their business. On the face of it, you don't.

    If a group of EDL supporters started to camp outside your college with a sound system that enabled them to disrupt lessons with their protests about about the teaching of critical race theory or whatever, are you cool with that? You would be happy even if you disagree with them? Of course you would...

    Why do you consider the replacement of the current common law offence of publc nuisance with a stautory version to be 'the most frightening part of legislation'?

    Personally, I welcome the codification of the common law as it ensures clarity, but the only difference for a person being charged after the codification is that the charge sheet will refer to a statutory provision as opposed to being 'contrary to common law'. And once again, you try your not -so-sleight of hand by changing 'serious annoyance' to 'annoyance' to make your point. You also skip over the fact that publc nuisance - both in its current common law form and the proposed statutory form - is not concernd with the impact upon individuals, but upon the public at large.

    So again, it comes down to this, you think it okay to cause serious annoyance to the public at large, whereas I think it is a question of balance and that the public at large has the right to go about their business without being caused unneccessary serious annoyance.

    And then you wonder why you got trounced in December 2019.

    The bill is wide ranging, there are bits that I agree with and bits that I don't.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Grist would not be able to protest about Brexit if the Home decrees that his protest will be likely to cause serious unease to people in it's vicinity?

    You make much of my omission of the word serious. How will 'serious' unease/annoyance as opposed to just 'unease' or 'annoyance' be defined and who will be defining it? Are you happy with this wording?

    I thought you disliked straw manning? I didn't say I approved of serious disruption to people going about their activities, and I completely agree that there is a balance to be struck. But are you not concerned that these sections of the bill are open to abuse by an open secretary that wishes to further clamp down on active but legitimate protest? (I'm not talking about riots or criminal acts)

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