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My Lords, the police have powers to ban a protest under the Public Order Act 1986 if there is a belief that it may cause,
“serious disruption to the life of the community”,
but, of course, the decision has to be proportionate. Clearly, the view as to what constitutes “serious disruption” is somewhat subjective. In the light of that subjectivity, it is surprising that the Mayor of London was apparently not made aware that the police were going to impose this ban, in view of the responsibility that the mayor has for the Metropolitan Police and the fact that many would regard this as a ban on freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest, and a potential thin end of the wedge.
When did the Metropolitan Police last impose such a ban under Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 and in respect of which protests? Do the police have any guidelines, laid down or approved by any elected representatives, on what constitutes serious disruption to the life of the community? How long does the ban apply for? Is it for a limited period, in perpetuity or for as long as the Metropolitan Police wishes it to apply? Do the Mayor of London or the Home Secretary have any statutory powers to overrule this ban? I understand that legal action in the form of an application for judicial review has been launched over the police decision. Does the Metropolitan Police accept that it will not arrest or charge anybody for breaching the ban, pending the outcome of the judicial review?