More than 100 people were arrested at demonstrations protesting the government’s new policing proposals in central London yesterday (April 3), the Met Police have said.
Protesters marched in their thousands across the UK on Saturday to voice their opposition to the government’s proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that would hand police sweeping powers to ban future protests and arrest those attending.
In London, thousands marched from Hyde Park to Westminster, with a rally held close to Parliament featuring speakers including the former Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Police said the vast majority of protesters were peaceful and did their best to observe Covid-safe social distancing measures.
🚫More police powers to stop protest
⛔️Protest buffer zone for Parliament
🔐Up to 10 years in prison for ‘serious annoyance’
🚔More stop & search w/out suspicion
🚨Criminalises Gypsy, Roma & Traveller way of life
— Liberty (@libertyhq) April 4, 2021
However confrontations between protesters and the police occurred and a number of arrests were made.
All in all, some 107 people were arrested for “a number of offences” which, according to the police statement, included “breach of the peace; violent disorder; assault on police and breaches of Covid legislation”.
A woman was also arrested for “suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon”.
Speaking a day after the protests on Easter Sunday, Commander Ade Adelekan who led the policing operation for yesterday’s protests said:
“While our advice to people remains not to attend large gatherings, the vast majority of people who attended central London yesterday, adhered to social distancing, and engaged and listened to my officers.
“However, as the afternoon wore on it became clear that a small number of people were intent on remaining to cause disruption…
A total of 107 people were arrested during yesterday’s protests in central London – the arrests were for a variety of offences inc breach of the peace; violent disorder and assault on police. https://t.co/vdO6mFi1Na
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) April 4, 2021
“Despite repeated instructions from officers to leave, they did not and, amid increasing levels of disorder, arrests were made.
“We should not allow the behaviour of a few individuals who attend these events with the purpose of committing criminal acts to taint the good behaviour of the majority who attended yesterday.”
The government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has received criticism from across the political spectrum for contents in the bill labelled by some critics as an assault on civil liberties.
Gracie Bradley, the director of civil rights group Liberty, previously said that “parts of this Bill will facilitate discrimination and undermine protest, which is the lifeblood of a healthy democracy.
“We should all be able to stand up for what we believe in, yet these proposals would give the police yet more powers to clamp down on protest.
“They risk stifling dissent and making it harder for us to hold the powerful to account.”
Under the law, which passed the House of Commons on its second reading with support from Conservative MPs, protests could be forcefully shut down by the police if they were deemed to be causing significant disruption to the public, with protesters facing jail time for taking part.
It also makes provisions to give authorities more powers to forcibly remove traveller communities that critics say will criminalise those communities.