Slow marchers targeted by Government

June 15, 2023


Deliberate slow-marching by protestors, which have brought disruption to the public, has been more clearly defined by the Government.

Ministers hope it will give police greater powers under existing public order law to deal with demonstrators.

Slow marching has brought havoc to the streets of London 156 times since April.

The guidance will allow officers the authority to deal “quickly and firmly” with protests by assessing their cumulative impact.

Dealing with such marching has burned through nearly 14,000 police shifts, taking officers away from the communities they would normally be serving, the Home Office claimed.

A Home Office statement said: “While the right to peaceful protest remains a cornerstone of our democracy, causing traffic to halt, delaying people getting to work and distracting the police from fighting crime will not be tolerated.

“Police officers can now assess the cumulative impact of protests on the community over a period of time, rather than treating each incident in isolation.

“This will give officers the authority to move quickly and firmly to stop this campaign of disruption, ensuring Londoners, commuters and tourists can move freely around the capital without delay.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “The public are sick of…selfish and self-defeating actions, which achieve nothing towards their cause.

“Chief Constables and I agree that police officers should be out fighting crime. They shouldn’t be forced to stand by as protestors block our roads and the public shouldn’t have to take matters in their own hands.

“This new definition of serious disruption means police can stop slow marchers, to reclaim our right to get to work, hospital and go about our daily lives.”

Chief Constable BJ Harrington, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for public order and public safety said: “Our priority is always to keep people safe and in every decision around policing public order and protests we must balance the right to freedom of expression with the right to tackle crime so we can ensure public safety.

“Policing is not anti-protest, but we are anti-crime. We welcome clearer definition of serious disruption provided by parliament in this statutory instrument as this will help officers to take proportionate action when it is necessary.”

The Home Office statement said: “It comes following scrutiny and approval by the House of Commons and Lords, empowering officers to take action swiftly and spend more time protecting our communities.

“The move supports the Public Order Act 2023, which brought in new criminal offences and proper penalties for disruptive protest acts such as locking on.

“Repeat offenders can be hit by the courts with a Serious Disruption Prevention Order, seeing them face six months in prison if they try to disrupt lives again.”

The marchers have taken to the streets to highlight issues such as climate change and the oil industry.


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