London: Police clash with demonstrators at ‘Kill The Bill’ protest
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The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill was shelved by ministers earlier this year in the face of backlash from MPs and campaigners. However, today the Government revealed its plans to revive the legislation over the next 12 months.
The Bill aims to introduce a range of measures including increasing the sentences judges can hand out to serious criminals and increasing the scope of sexual offences.
But plans to give police more powers to clamp down on protests that disrupt day-to-day life have sparked outrage, with claims the plans are a clap down on the right to demonstrate.
A series of sometimes demonstrations broke out across the country in response to the Bill.
In Bristol, 20 police officers were left injured in March after being attacked by those campaigning against the legislation.
Police vans were set on fire, and fireworks and projectiles were hurled at officers trapped in a building.
One policeman was even left with a punctured lung after being stomped upon.
Campaigns against the plans adopted the provocative name “Kill the Bill”.
“The Bill” is often used as slang to mean the police.
The legislation was stopped partway through the parliamentary process due to the sheer scale of the backlash.
The Prime Minister has previously described those who took part in the protests as “thugs”, criticising the attacks on the police.
In the Queen’s speech the Government announced it intended to press ahead with the bill over the next year.
Outlining the Government’s legislative agenda, the Queen said: “My Government will introduce measures to increase the safety and security of its citizens.
“Legislation will increase sentences for the most serious and violent offenders and ensure the timely administration of justice.”
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Police in England and Wales will be allowed to impose extra conditions on non-violent protests judged to be too noisy and therefore intimidating to the public.
It would also aim to expand the area around Parliament where some protest activities are banned.
Her Majesty made the announcement in a scaled-back version of the State Opening of Parliament.
Much of the pomp and ceremony was scrapped in order to abide by coronavirus social distancing guidelines.
Attendance at the speech was also reduced, with only a handful of MPs attending.
Usually the speech is made in front of all Lords and MPs.
However, due to the pandemic, only party leaders, whips, and the speakers were in attendance.
Those listening to the speech in the chamber also had to wear face masks and show proof of a negative Covid test prior to attendance.
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