Parliament must scrap Section 35 powers because:

  • The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 has handed police officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) with dispersal powers that are open to arbitrary misuse.
  • The assurances given to Parliament – which briefly rejected plans to extend anti-social behaviour powers precisely because of concerns about the impact on fundamental freedoms – have not been met. The alleged protection offered by the requirement for ‘regard’ to rights of freedom of expression and assembly is failing. It is apparent that only in the narrowest definition of what constitutes “assembly” is any effort even made to consider human-rights compliance.
  • The dispersal powers that the 2014 Act replaced were already contentious, an attempt to show that ‘something was being done’ but one that tended to simply displace to neighbouring areas and antagonised and alienated many young people who felt they were unfairly stereotyped.
  • Extending dispersal powers has simply served to extend the range of targets who are stereotyped too – branding protest that is not notified and negotiated with the police in advance as ‘anti-social behaviour’.
  • Section 35 powers is thus a threat to the exercise of rights under articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It is time it was scrapped.

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