Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill
Shami Chakrabarti: To be blunt, over the past 15 or 20 years, there has been a tradition of involving the police in trespass and nuisance situations, which are not classic crimes. I think that is a problem. Aggravated trespass is often used against demonstrators. To my mind, trespass is a civil matter, and it should be for people to go to civil law, and the police should have a minimal role in that sort of situation. That has been bad enough, and that was 15 years ago or something.
The police are now being used as bouncers or to tidy up Parliament square, and it is not only the police, but other untrained agents wearing whatever. It is a recipe for making difficult situations worse. There will always be demonstrations in central London. At particular times, there will be more or less demonstration: when you are at war, there will be peace protesters; when there is a recession, there will be student demonstrators; and so on. Let us not have a public order framework that makes that even more difficult and divisive.