Rishi Sunak backs tougher police powers to shut down protests before they get disruptive

Police could be allowed to intervene before protests become highly disruptive, under new measures set to be considered in Parliament, the Government has confirmed. An

amendment to the Public Order Bill, due to be introduced on Monday, will aim to give police greater clarity about when they can intervene to stop demonstrators blocking roads or

slow marching. The Bill is aimed at curbing the guerrilla tactics used by groups such as Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion. The proposals, backed by prime

minister Rishi Sunak, come after police chiefs claimed there is some uncertainty over what can be currently classed as “serious disruption” under existing law. According to

Downing Street, under the proposed changes, police would not need to wait for disruption to take place and could shut demonstrations down before they escalate. Human rights

group Liberty said the plan amounted to an attack on the right to protest. Director Martha Spurrier said: “These new proposals should be seen for what they are: a desperate

attempt to shut down any route for ordinary people to make their voices heard. “Allowing the police to shut down protests before any disruption has taken place simply on the

off-chance that it might sets a dangerous precedent, not to mention making the job of officers policing protests much more complex.” No 10 said police, as part of the mooted

changes, would not need to treat a series of protests by the same group as standalone incidents, but would be able to consider their total impact. Officers would be able to

take into consideration long-running campaigns designed to cause repeat disruption over a period of days or weeks.