Home Office written question – answered on 24th June 2015.

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Photo of Lord Maginnis of Drumglass Lord Maginnis of Drumglass Independent Ulster Unionist

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to consider further the banning of the use of masks by demonstrators in order to avoid identification; and what assessment they have made of the current policy's impact on police forces and members of the community.

Photo of Lord Bates Lord Bates The Minister of State, Home Department

Face coverings can be worn in public places for a variety of legitimate reasons. In the context of a public order situation, where face coverings are being worn with the express intention of concealing identity, section 60AA of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 enables a police officer in uniform to require any person to remove any item which the officer reasonably believes is being worn wholly or mainly for the purpose of concealing their identity. Section 60AA also enables a police officer in uniform to seize any item which they reasonably believe any person intends to use to conceal their identity.

A refusal to comply with a direction under this section of the Act is punishable by a fine of up to £1,000 and/or one month’s imprisonment.

These powers only apply in the locality and for the period for which an authorisation under section 60 or section 60AA of the Act has been given by a police officer of the rank of inspector or above. An inspector’s authorisation lasts for a maximum period of 24 hours, unless a police officer of the rank of superintendent or above authorises their use for a further 24 hours.

There are currently no plans to ban the use of masks in public order situations.

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