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Confirmed: Police will be able to crack down on noisy protests

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is set to become law after the Lords voted through its most controversial measures on Tuesday night.

Police will gain powers to crack down on noisy protests after attempts to block the government’s plans ended.

The House of Lords last night voted to allow police the powers to impose conditions on noise for marches, one-person protests, and public assemblies as part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Peers had rejected the measures three times, but gave way with time running out for the bill to pass after MPs voted yet again to put the powers back into bill, known as the Policing Bill.

It comes after a year of resistance by the Kill the Bill movement, set up to fight the “anti-protest” measures, which critics say will disproportionately impact marginalised and already over-policed groups.

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In a concession, the government agreed the Home Office would review the powers within two years, to see if the “too noisy” provision has worked.

Human rights organisation Liberty said on Twitter after the votes: “This discriminatory and authoritarian Bill will now become law.

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“It’s a time to feel angry, but not defeated.”

Attempts to make “locking on” a crime and to give the police greater powers to stop and search without suspicion were thrown out by the Lords in January, following protests across the country.

But groups have now admitted defeat on the bill after this latest vote in the Lords.

Sam Grant, head of policy and campaigns, Liberty, said: “The policing bill has faced opposition from all corners of society in recent months, and as a result of the tireless work of campaigners, parliamentarians and members of the public, some of the worst excesses of the bill have been removed.

“However, the effects of the bill will still be incredibly concerning – particularly for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, and those already affected by over-policing. Liberty will continue to stand up against abuses of power, defend the right to protest, and resist this government’s attempt to make itself untouchable.”

Amendments stripping the powers to restrict noisy moving and static protests from the bill were put forward by Labour and the Lib Dems. Both were defeated – but not unanimously.

Labour’s Lord Coaker, whose amendment would have prevented the police from placing noise conditions on protests, urged peers to keep resisting.

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He said during the debate: “Governments always promise a review of one sort or another when they are in trouble.

“It is time for us to push back again and say that the provision is a nonsense; it is ridiculous.”

Coaker’s amendments were defeated by 180 to 133 votes and 169 to 113 votes.

With the current parliamentary session set to end on Thursday, further resistance could have meant the Policing Bill failing to become law.

Home Office minister Baroness Williams of Trafford said during the debate: “These provisions do not enable the police to ban noisy protests.

“They enable the police to attach conditions to a protest in relation to the generation of noise. That is quite an important distinction.”

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