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Policing protests: consultation needs input

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consultation, police, policing protestsThey want to ensure that they can identify good practice based on the best available evidence.

A long-awaiting consultation is underway on new guidance for policing protests: three years after a commitment to review the advice to officers, the College of Policing is seeking comments on two new documents, which it says reflect lessons from recent protests.

The consultation invites feedback from people and organisations who have an interest in protests.

The documents say the starting point for policing public protest is the presumption in favour of peaceful assembly, set out in Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The College of Policing is currently consulting on the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Protest Operational Advice Document.

This document will replace the ACPO guidance to policing linked to Onshore Oil and Gas operations 2015.

It reflects the latest developments and lessons learnt from across the United Kingdom when policing protests. This has informed the updates to Authorised Professional Practice (APP) on Public Order policing (Section 2 – Core Principles and Legislation) which is being consulted on at the same time.

There is an element of duplication within the two documents. It is felt that the importance of the changes need to be reflected in both sources of information for police forces ‘to ensure knowledge and understanding’.

There will be a further detailed review of APP in 2020.

The updated APP includes:

The presumption in favour of peaceful assembly;

Incitement to hatred;

Using freedom of expression to destroy the human rights of others;

Scenarios in which this will most commonly arise;

Violence, or incitement to violence;

Hate speech and associated activity;

Counter-protests; and

Deliberate interference with/prevention of the peaceful enjoyment of property.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council’s Operational Advice includes:

Striking the balance;

Working with Stakeholders;

Vulnerability;

Protective Security; and

APP updates as highlighted above and which are further expanded upon.

The document has been developed by representatives including Police Practitioners, NPCC Leads, and Legal advisors including George Thomas QC, barrister, Serjeants’ Inn Chambers.

They would like to use the consultation to:

Ensure the content of the suggested NPCC Operational Advice and APP is appropriate and useful to practitioners;

Invite feedback from the wide range of individuals and organisations who have an interest in matters relating to protest; and

Draw on the knowledge, skills and experience of others to enrich the product and ensure that they can identify good practice based on the best available evidence.

They have identified a number of specific questions which they think will help them to achieve this and would also welcome comments on any individual section of the document.

The consultation is open until 27 September 2019.

Please read both draft documents and submit your comments using the feedback template, and return it by emailing anika.ludwig@college.pnn.police.uk.

The College of Policing has said staff may not be able to respond to individual feedback, however all submissions will be documented and considered in the development of the final product.

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