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The Right to Peaceful Protest

March 15, 2021 10:00 AM
By Ellen Nicholson

Copy of the letter sent to Andrew Murrison, MP on Sunday 14th March 2021 following the disrupted Clapham Common vigil and the forthcoming Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021

Dr Andrew Murrison
MP for South West Wiltshire
House of Commons

Dear Andrew,

Re.: Peaceful Protests

The scenes over the weekend of the police's response to the Clapham Common vigil in
memory of Sarah Everard are utterly disgraceful.

The vigil was a peaceful one, brought about by the most tragic of circumstances.
The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental part of any functioning democracy. That is why
We are concerned by the Conservative Government's attempt to limit our right to peaceful
protest in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021.

The police already have extensive powers to limit peaceful protest. They do not require more
extensive powers which may reduce an individual's right to free speech. The legislation
would expand the police's power to stop protests, giving them the right to impose conditions
on those that cause significant impact. To make noise level a reason for which the police can
shut down a peaceful protest is ludicrous and could effectively wipe out any peaceful protest
occurring in built-up areas such as near Downing Street or the Houses of Parliament due its
subjective nature of interpretation.

The purpose of a peaceful protest is to cause significant impact, informing people of the
protesters' cause, to raise awareness and to effect change. The bill consequently lowers the
bar for when police forces can intervene, to a level where it is a serious threat to freedom of
speech and the right to protest.

We therefore call on you to vote against the Conservative Government's Police, Crime,
Sentencing and Courts Bill at its second reading.

Yours sincerely,

Ellen Nicholson, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for South West Wiltshire
Cllr Stewart Palmen, Wiltshire Council, Trowbridge Central Ward
Cllr Jo Trigg, Wiltshire Council, Trowbridge Lambrok Ward
Cllr Chris Hoar, Trowbridge Town Council, Central Ward
Jill Caudle, Wiltshire Council Candidate for Nadder Valley and East Knoyle
Nick Errington, Wiltshire Council Candidate for Tisbury
Stephen Cooper, Wiltshire Council Candidate for Trowbridge Park Ward
David Vigar, Wiltshire Council Candidate for Trowbridge Grove Ward