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Read more articles in: Blog, Criminal, Mandeep Sehmi

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act: What you need to know

The Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Act is now law after hitting the headlines throughout its legal passage.

Its proponents in Government say it backs the police by giving them the power to keep the public safe and imposes tougher sentences for serious offenders.

Its critics, however, argue that the law is an attack on the right to protest.

So, what does the new law contain and why has it caused such controversy?

What is the impact on protests?

The Government says the law will uphold the right to peaceful protest while giving the police the powers to stop “disruptive” protests from “disproportionally infringing on the rights and freedoms of others”.

In practice, this means that police will be able to put more conditions on static protests, with people taking part risking getting a hefty fine for breaking certain rules.

Police will be able to impose a start and finish time and set noise limits. They will also be able to apply these rules to a demonstration by one person, for instance, one person speaking on a loudspeaker in a solo protest.

It will also become a crime to “intentionally or recklessly cause a public nuisance” in a bid to stop protestors from occupying public spaces, such as in the style of Extinction Rebellion.

Why is this controversial?

The bill led to a wave of protests as it made its way through Parliament, known as ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstrations. Critics of the bill have argued that it gives the police too much power to curb peaceful protests and ultimately curtails the right to protest, which is a human right. It was also argued that the law, particularly in its policing of noise levels, was disproportionate.

What other measures are in the new law?

The law does not only cover protests, it also introduces a raft of new measures including:

  • The introduction of higher maximum penalties for child cruelty offences
  • An extension of the scope of the Sexual Offences Act in relation to the abuse of positions of trust
  • The introduction of new Serious Violence Reduction Orders
  • Mandatory life sentences for anyone convicted of killing an emergency worker while committing a crime.

Have you been accused of committing a crime? We help clients through all stages of the criminal justice process. For advice and representation, get in touch with our expert team today.

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