Sat 01 May 2021:
Hundreds march in the Kill the Bill protest against the Policing and Crime Bill in central London over claims that the new legislature undermines the freedom of expression, Sputnik correspondent reported from the scene on Saturday.
The Kill the Bill demonstrations are happening in over 20 cities across the country on May Day. The protests were triggered by the Policing and Crime Bill, which proposes to give the UK police extra powers to regulate non-violent protests that could be deemed too noisy or a nuisance.
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Several hundred people gathered on Saturday afternoon in London’s Trafalgar Square to express their disagreement with the bill. the legislature violates the foundations of democracy and impedes the right of citizens to protest.
Some even expressed fear that the bill’s approval will be the death of the democracy in the UK.
The Metropolitan Police urged the protesters to comply with coronavirus restrictions as the country is still in lockdown and public gatherings are strictly prohibited. The square and the surrounding areas in central London have been reinforced with police units accompanied by a helicopter.
The protests are peaceful, no clashes with the police or arrests have been reported yet.
In April, the UK faced several Kill the Bill protests and rallies against coronavirus restrictions. Thousands of people took to the streets of the British capital, eight police officers were reportedly injured while dispersing crowds, about 100 demonstrators were detained.
What is the police and crime bill?
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is a major piece of legislation brought forward by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s governing Conservative Party government.
It includes a range of proposals for reform of the crime and justice system in England and Wales, from toughening sentences for those who assault emergency workers to modernising court proceedings.
So what is controversial about it? Critics are particularly concerned because if the law is passed, police will have greater powers over protests – including being able to decide when rallies start and finish, and control noise levels.
The government says the measures will “strengthen police powers to tackle non-violent protests that have a significant disruptive effect on the public”.
But some politicians, including those from the main opposition Labour Party, have warned they would curtail freedoms.
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