New Powers Allow Police to Arrest Masked Protesters in England and Wales

New Powers Allow Police to Arrest Masked Protesters in England and Wales

LONDON – The Home Office has proposed measures granting police powers to arrest masked individuals at protests in England and Wales. Protesters wearing face coverings could face up to a month in jail and £1000 fine under the new rules.

The move comes in response to four activists being cleared of criminal damage for toppling slave trader Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol in 2020. They had cited right to protest as reasonable excuse.

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Possession of flares, fireworks or pyrotechnics at protests will also become an offence with £1000 penalty. This follows their use at anti-Israel-Gaza war demonstrations.

The amendments will be added to the Criminal Justice Bill going through parliament, expected to be law by Easter.

Climbing war memorials during protests will become a specific public order offence with 3-month jail term and £1000 fine. Some have broken off from large protests to climb national monuments recently.

Critics slam the ‘culture war’ proposal as it could stop rape victims and refugees from lawfully covering faces to protect identities while protesting. But the Home Office defends the move to tackle dangerous criminality and disruption by a protest minority.

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