UK: new measures to halt 'disruptive' protests

The UK government on Jan. 16 introduced amendments to the pending Public Order Bill to change the definition of "serious disruption," broadening the range of situations in which police in England and Wales may act to stop protests. Police will not need to wait for disruption to take place to shut down protests under the proposed measures. The amendments would also create a new criminal offense for interfering with "key national infrastructure." The amendments are clearly aimed at activist groups such as Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain.

Through the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Act 2022, the government already created a statutory offense of "public nuisance," created powers for the police to place restrictions on "unjustifiably" loud protests, and increased the sentences for obstructing highways. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sat down with the Home Secretary and police chiefs in December to give a clear message that the Government expects protesters who disrupt the lives of others to be removed and arrested.

From Jurist, Jan. 16. Used with permission.