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The new SOCPA

The law banning "unauthorised" protests around Parliament has finally been repealed, but what will replace it?

On 15 September, the house of commons repealed the provisions of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) restricting protest around parliament. Its replacement, the new Police and Social Responsibility Bill, which has not yet come into force, appears to prohibit 24-hour protests in Parliament Square. Tents, sleeping bags, structures and any items associated with maintaining an ongoing presence seem to be illegal the square.

Camp hit

On 31 August, police dismantled the Parliament Square peace camp begun by activist Brian Haw in June 2001.

Since Brian Haw’s death from lung cancer on 18 June (see PN 2535), the campaign has been run by activist Barbara Tucker. Tucker was arrested on 11 August on charges of assaulting an officer, obstructing searches and failure to appear in court. The following day she was sentenced to nine weeks in prison.

According to Schnews, the dismantling of the camp happened because Tucker was no longer occupying it due to her imprisonment, and the anti-war display was deemed to be “litter”. Barbara Tucker has resumed the Parliament Square peace camp, and at the time of going to press was campaigning for the return of the camp’s property. Maria Gallastegui’s Peace Strike camp also continues on the pavement opposite the houses of parliament.

Christina Dey is a PN reporter.

Topics: Civil Liberties