Campaigners hit Portsmouth city centre to protest against 'inhumane' new British law reforms

CAMPAIGNERS took to Portsmouth’s city centre last night to demonstrate against an ‘inhumane’ proposed bill which will hand police more powers to shut down protests.

By Tom Cotterill
Saturday, 18th December 2021, 3:50 pm
Updated Sunday, 19th December 2021, 9:25 am
Protesters from a coalition of local groups in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, protesting against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and the Nationality and Borders Bll  
Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 171221-30)
Protesters from a coalition of local groups in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, protesting against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and the Nationality and Borders Bll Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 171221-30)

The ‘Kill The Bill’ rally was the latest in a series against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which campaigners fear will infringe on ‘people’s human rights and freedom of speech’.

Activists from the city’s Extinction Rebellion branch joined forces with other campaign groups during the demonstration.

As well as protesting the new police and crime bill, the demonstrators were also seeking to voice their concerns about the proposed Nationality and Borders Bill, which they say will ‘threaten the lives of so many refugees’.

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Organiser Alex Ruddock Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 171221-28)

Mum Alex Ruddock, 28, of Milton, organised the protest. She said: ‘These bills are inhumane.

‘The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill gives police more power to put protestors in jail.

‘Stop and search powers will be increased when they are already affecting larger minority groups way more than they should be.

‘The Nationality and Borders Bill criminalises lifeboat crews for saving migrants coming across from the Channel.

‘The government needs to either get rid of these bills or make severe amendments to these bills to make it safe for people to live in this country with their families.’

Jo Shippan, of Chichester, was among those to join the protest in Guildhall Square. The 68-year-old said: ‘I think these bills are outrageous. The whole thing is very dodgy.’

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is a mammoth piece of legislation that includes major government proposals on crime and justice in England and Wales. One part of it covers changes to protests.

As part of the proposed changes, police chiefs will be able to put more conditions on static protests.

This will include the ability to set a start and finish time and apply noise limits. These rules could then be applied to a demonstration or just one person.

It could mean that a lone demonstrator could potentially be fined up to £2,500 if they refuse to follow police directions over how they should conduct their protest.

It will also become a crime to fail to follow restrictions the protesters ‘ought’ to have known about, even if they have not received a direct order from an officer.

At present, police need to prove protesters knew they had been told to move on, before they can be said to have broken the law.

Meanwhile, the Nationality and Borders Bill will criminalise people knowingly arriving in the UK without permission and will also introduce longer maximum sentences for those entering the UK without a legal reason.

The government says it would help the nation more closely monitor who can claim asylum seeker status.

But critics have condemned the proposals, saying the government is abandoning its international obligation to those fleeing persecution.

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