Right to protest matters even more after Sarah Everard’s death and vigil – The Yorkshire Post says

THE METROPOLITAN Police’s so-called ‘tin ear’ over the policing of the Clapham Common vigil in memory of Sarah Everard, who grew up in York, is now replicated by Home Secretary’s Priti Patel mistaken priorities as the controversy escalates.

A Reclaim The Streets protest in Parliament Square at the weekend.
A Reclaim The Streets protest in Parliament Square at the weekend.

Here is one of the most senior Cabinet ministers who should be using her office, and her own experiences of prejudice, to stop the justice system discriminating against women and effectively treating victims of violence, and wider misogyny, as second class citizens.

Instead Ms Patel – and the rest of the Government – appears intent on pressing ahead with the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which has the potential to curtail the types of protest witnessed in Clapham Common, and elsewhere, in recent days.

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Now this newspaper sympathises with the predicament facing the police at such gatherings – the Covid lockdown has not helped – and awaits a full explanation from Dame Cressida Dick, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, about the Clapham operation and whether her officers responded proportionately or not.

Home Secretary Priti Patel.

But the potential for this ill-conceived Bill to compromise right to protest, a cornerstone of any democracy, must be challenged in the strongest terms possible because it is, ironically, the actions being taken by the Reclaim The Streets movement, and the symbolic lighting of candles on Saturday night, that has led so many people to take a stand against the injustices that have been facing women ever since the suffragettes won the vote a century ago.

And, as these two issues converge, The Yorkshire Post hopes that every MP will reject the more draconian elements of these new laws before the Peelian principle of ‘policing by consent’ is compromised, and leaves all women alienated, because of the tin ears of legislators and law enforcers alike.

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Police at the Sir Winston Churchill statue as the Government looks to curtail the right to protest.