Independent: UK heading towards ‘paramilitary policing’ under proposed policing protest laws, warns ex-police chief

3 April 2021


After a year of protests the UK government’s new proposals for policing protests attracts criticism from a former chief constable.

We at CogRes also believe the “democracies thrive in protest” and are deeply concerned about this and other measures the government is taking. We will have to fight for our rights.

Britain is heading towards a system of “paramilitary policing” under controversial new measures proposed by the government which allow them to flex “their muscles” through officers on the ground, an ex-police chief has warned.

Michael Barton, who was chief constable of Durham constabulary until stepping down in 2019, compared the UK government to “repressive regimes” that exert power via their police.

His remarks to The Observer come after riot police could be seen pushing people to the ground with their shields at Friday night’s protest against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in Bristol, with at least 10 people arrested and a Daily Mirror journalist the subject of an “assault” by police.

The controversial legislation, which recently passed its first hurdle in House of Commons, would hand police greater power to implement conditions on non-violent protests, with convictions potentially leading to jail time.

Mr Barton, who was in the police for 39 years in total, told the paper: “I’m not in favour of even more restrictive measures. Surely after a historically unprecedented year-long curfew, in peacetime, the government could show some common sense and gratitude for such incredible forbearance to allow civil liberties to once again flourish

“Police chiefs will be seen as the arbiters of what is and is not allowed when it comes to protest. Democracies thrive on protest. This government has condemned what has happened in the Ukraine but those same protesters would fall foul of our new laws.”

Read the Independent article UK heading towards ‘paramilitary policing’ under proposed policing protest laws, warns ex-police chief

See also

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