New legislation puts fundamental freedoms at risk – Counsel General
The Welsh Government’s chief legal adviser has warned the Senedd the UK Government’s Public Order Act puts historic freedoms around peaceful protest at risk.
In a statement Mick Antoniw, Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution, said new powers were authoritarian, draconian and risked undermining trust in policing.
The Public Order Act gives police extra powers to prevent protests deemed to be violent or excessively disruptive. This includes new offences related to ‘locking on’, extending the use of stop and search powers, and introducing new protest banning orders which can prevent people from attending protests.
It became law in the days leading up to the King’s Coronation and the Metropolitan Police has admitted it was wrong to arrest 6 demonstrators despite having no proof they were planning to use ‘lock on’ devices.
The Act has received criticism from organisations including Amnesty International, Liberty and Big Brother Watch. The UK Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner have also expressed concern that the Act would threaten the fundamental right to engage in peaceful protest.
Policing is a reserved matter and the police are operationally independent of Welsh Government, however, Mick Antoniw confirmed the Welsh Government will continue to work with police forces to monitor the impact of the Public Order Act in Wales.
Mick Antoniw, Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution, said:
The Public Order Act puts the fundamental right of peaceful protest at risk. People have historic freedoms and rights to speak out against authority, to make their views heard and to argue for change.
Police already had a range of powers to take action against violent or excessively disruptive protests. It would have been preferable to find ways to support the proportionate use of existing powers, but what we are seeing is the introduction of new and extreme powers that erode the right to peaceful protest.
I am particularly concerned with the widening of powers on stop and search - Black Asian and Minority Ethnic communities already experience disproportionate use of this police power.
The Counsel General added:
The regressive provisions in the Public Order Act imposed on the people of Wales by the UK government underline why the devolution of policing and criminal justice is so urgent. Only when we have full oversight of the justice system in Wales will we be able to fully align its delivery with the needs and priorities of the people and communities of Wales.
Original article link: https://www.gov.wales/new-legislation-puts-fundamental-freedoms-at-risk-counsel-general
Latest News from
National effort needed to increase school attendance post pandemic – Education Minister says09/06/2023 16:10:00
A national effort is needed to support the 1 in 5 children who are regularly missing school, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles has said today.
Success at National GO Awards for Commercial Procurement09/06/2023 14:05:00
On 1 June, the National GO Awards took place at the voco St John’s Solihull – celebrating excellence in public procurement and the supply chain.
New £30 million funds launched to boost innovation in Wales08/06/2023 16:25:00
The Welsh Government is investing £30 million in new programmes that will help Welsh organisations develop and embed new innovative products and services to help improve people’s lives, grow the economy and address the climate and nature emergency, Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething and Climate Change Minister, Julie James have announced today.
£15m ‘boost’ will increase the number of Welsh electric vehicle charging points07/06/2023 15:05:00
The Welsh Government will invest £15m to increase the number of electric vehicle charging points across Wales.
Up to £30m investment in community care to reduce pressure on hospitals06/06/2023 14:05:00
The Welsh Government will invest up to £30m to deliver more care at home or in the community and reduce the time people spend in hospitals.
HGV training driving better outcomes06/06/2023 11:05:00
Finance Minister Rebecca Evans yesterday met a group of women who have trained as HGV drivers thanks to a pilot project targeting skills shortages in traditionally gendered sectors.
Deputy Minister welcome’s Queen Victoria’s first visit to Holyhead06/06/2023 09:05:00
Cunard’s Queen Victoria made her ever first visit to Wales during a port call to Holyhead over the weekend.
New scheme to help staff at small businesses access well-being support02/06/2023 11:05:00
A new scheme to enable small and medium-sized enterprises, or ‘SMEs’, to access health and well-being support is being launched today by the Welsh Government.