Sunday, 8 December 2013

Protesters and skateboarders under threat from Tory Anti-Social Behaviour Bill!

Civil liberties groups are up in arms about what they see as truly shocking restrictions on civil liberties posed by the Government's 'Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill', which is currently before Parliament.

Those opposed to measures within the Bill, say that it would give councils carte-blanche powers to allow them to ban everything from protests, to outdoor public meetings and children's skateboarding.

Campaigners point out that under Part 4 of the Bill  entitled 'Community Protection', Town Halls would be allowed to issue 'Public Spaces Protection Orders' (PSPO's) to restrict any activity deemed to have a "detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality." The vague wording, and the failure to define the size of the areas to be covered, have led to fears that measures within the Bill, could be deployed to impose blanket bans on lawful activities. Anyone found to have broken the new laws, would be punished with on-the-spot fines, which could be issued by private security guards working on commissions for councils.

The orders, which would last for three years, would be directed at "All persons or only persons in specified categories", which has raised fears that certain groups such as trade unionists or rough sleepers could be descriminated against.

Clause 38 of the Bill, gives powers to an 'authorised person' (constable, local authority, designated person), to issue 'Community Protection Notices' (CPN), if satisfied on reasonable grounds that (a) the conduct of the individual or body is having a detrimental effect, of a persistent or continuing nature, on the quality of life of those in the locality and (b) the conduct is unreasonable.

Although there is a right of appeal in respect of some of the measures, opponents of the Bill say that processes are so expensive and complex that they will be beyond the reach of most groups. Climate change groups and groups like Occupy London, are likely to be seriously affected by the news laws.

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