From Statues to Statute: Protests and Vigils in the Time of COVID-19
12 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2021 Last revised: 23 Apr 2021
Date Written: March 31, 2021
COVID-19 has proved to be an enormous challenge to the routine policing of public space in England and Wales. This paper will seek to explore the way that police leaders and operational commanders have had to react to the already-difficult human rights problem of policing public order at protests and demonstrations , given those difficulties have been exacerbated by a) unclear government policy and legal positions on the right to protest through different stages of the pandemic in England and Wales and b) the need to understand a new risk to public health, and to officer safety. At the same time as this new challenge has been unfolding for leaders in public order policing, HM Government have established a review of policy and law relating to public protests , and then moved to put a Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (2021) before Parliament, to create broader powers to police protest.
Keywords: Police, protest, human rights, pandemic, health, safety, expression, assembly
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