The intention of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which was a manifesto commitment at the last election, is not to stop peaceful protest. The Government is trying to address some of the hugely disruptive actions that many people have contacted me about following violent protests in London, some of which disrupted ambulances getting the sick to hospitals, stopped people getting to work, blockaded newspaper deliveries, damaged fountains in Trafalgar Square and had huge associated clean-up costs.
There is a balance to be struck between the right to protest, which we should protect and the right to create problems for other, law abiding, people wishing to go about their business without disruption. The Extinction Rebellion protests in particular demonstrated that additional legal powers were needed.
There has been some concern about the use of the word “annoyance” in the Bill. The Law Commission recommended that common law Public Nuisance be put into statute in order to achieve greater clarity. Concepts like annoyance are well-established in public nuisance case law. The Government is codifying the law and improving its operational effectiveness.
I have included a link to the factsheet about the Bill and the statement made by the Home Secretary in the House of Commons which I hope will help to address any concerns.