Adam Johannes Protesting with Cardiff People's Assembly

Public Order Bill: An Increase in Demonstrations for Cardiff?

Cardiff has seen many protests in recent times, but some worry possible amendments to the Public Order Bill will only make matters worse.

Cardiff People’s Assembly Co-convenor, Adam Johannes, is warning that Wales may see a rise in the number of public protests following potential amendments to the Public Order Bill.

Next Monday (23/01/2022) the House of Commons will decide if Police will be allowed to intervene before protests become highly disruptive. If the Bill is passed, it will not come into effect immediately.

The Conservative Government started work on proposals for the amendments, following the disruptive protests that began in the summer last year by environmental groups such as Just Stop Oil.

Downing Street say that this amendment is needed to “strike a balance between the rights of individuals and the rights of the hard-working majority to go about their day-to-day business”.

Tony Bambury from Buckinghamshire said that “he’ll never forgive protesters after disruption made him miss his father’s funeral” due to protests on the M25.

Some fear that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s belief that “the right to protest is a fundamental principle of our democracy, but this is not absolute” will steer society away from being a liberal democracy.

Johannes told CJS News that “restricting people’s right to protest may serve as a catalyst to further demonstrations as talks in Westminster will give campaign groups more publicity.”

He also pointed out that some marginalised groups feel threatened by the Police. The Metropolitan Police have recently been subject to much criticism following behavioural misconduct. It’s possible that vulnerable groups won’t feel as able to protest for change.

Law reform and human rights charity, JUSTICE, told CJS News that “the police already have extensive powers to manage protests and it is completely unnecessary for the Government to create such broad, ill-defined powers that will inevitably be used inconsistently to damaging and discriminatory effect.”