Monitoring civil liberties in the lockdown

We are experiencing the most overwhelming restriction on civil liberties that has ever occurred in peacetime. This is an exceptional situation, but the use of state power still needs to be checked and scrutinised. The Manifesto Club is collaborating with the Freedom Law Clinic to monitor the overzealous or unreasonable enforcement of coronavirus regulations. We will be running online seminars for law students and producing a briefing document. If you have experienced unreasonable police enforcement, or have an incident to report, please do get in touch.  

The misuse of dispersal powers against football fans

(Guest blog post by Peter Lloyd). The police have been in trouble before for blocking ‘away’ football fans who are simply going to a match to support their team. In 2010 Greater Manchester Police paid £200,000 to around 80 Stoke City supporters who were incorrectly prevented from going to a game in Manchester and falsely imprisoned by containment, and then escorted out of the city and back to Stoke. Rules were supposedly changed to prevent this happening again but it looks like the problem has not gone away. Three years ago Wrexham fans successfully sued Humberside Police in a similar case. So furious…

Manchester Council abortion clinic PSPO: Manifesto Club response

Manchester City Council is proposing a PSPO outside a Marie Stopes abortion clinic, which will include a prohibition on ‘protest, namely engage in any act of approval / disapproval or attempted act of approval / disapproval, with respect to issues related to abortion services by any means. This includes but is not limited to graphic, verbal or written means, prayer or counselling.’ While the Manifesto Club wholeheartedly supports women’s right to access abortion services without harassment or obstruction, we have grave concerns about the broad nature of this order and its impact upon freedom of speech. Here is our response below to…

Richmond Council’s abortion clinic PSPO: Manifesto Club response

Richmond council is planning a PSPO targeting anti-abortion protests outside an abortion clinic on Rosslyn Road. Here is the Manifesto Club response to this proposal. Dear Richmond Council, The Manifesto Club would like to register its opposition to your proposed text for a PSPO, on the grounds that the text is too broad, and fails to target harmful or nuisance detrimental behaviour. We specifically object to the prohibition on Protesting, namely engaging in any act of approval or disapproval or attempted act of approval or disapproval, with respect to issues related to abortion services, by any means, including, without limitation, graphic, verbal…

Response to Nottingham Council’s crackdown on busking, begging and leafleting

Nottingham City council is planning a wide-ranging PSPO, cracking down on busking, leafleting, begging and charity collection. The council employs over 100 community protection officers, who are notoriously heavy-handed and will make these prohibitions count. You can view the PSPO here, and send your submissions to the council by 3 October. The Manifesto Club response is below. We will be working with the organisation Keep Streets Live, and with local residents, to oppose this PSPO.   Dear Nottingham City Council, Here is a response from the Manifesto Club, regarding your proposed draft PSPO. Restriction on busking: We do not think that it…

Gloucester Council’s ban on begging, charity collection, and unattended belongings

Gloucester City Council is planning a PSPO which would ban begging, assertive charity collection, and give council officers the power to remove homeless people’s unattended belongings. The consultation is available here (open until 2 April). Here below is our response to the consultation. Dear Gloucester City Council We have severe concerns about elements of your draft PSPO, which we believe are illiberal, unnecessary, and in violation of the new government statutory guidance governing this area. There is a requirement in the new statutory guidance that the ‘councils should ensure that the Order is appropriately worded so that it targets the specific behaviour…

PSPOs: latest petitions

Every week there are new PSPOs, and every week there are new public petitions against them. Here is a selection of the latest live petitions:   STOP DOG BEACH BAN, INSTOW, NORTH DEVON – a petition against North Devon Council’s plan to ban dogs from this dog-friendly beach. STOP DONCASTER’S ‘LAW AGAINST EVERYTHING’ – a petition against Doncaster Council’s plan to ban everything from busking to rough sleeping, even ‘standing around’ in the city centre STOP THE PERSECUTION OF UK DOG OWNERS – REPEAL PSPOs AGAINST OUR DOGS – A petition opposing the increasing use of PSPOs to squeeze dog walkers out…

Doncaster bans ‘standing around’ in the town centre

Doncaster is consulting on a vague, meaningless and potentially very repressive PSPO. It would target buskers and homeless people, charity collectors, as well as anyone who chooses to ‘stand around’ in the town centre. See the council’s consultation here. Sign a petition against the order here. The prohibitions are below. Each of these prohibitions would be a criminal offence, punished by a 100 pound fine or prosecution: ‘Requesting money, donations or goods, including through placing of hats, clothing or containers’ – This would prohibit all busking, as well as begging, and charity collecting of all kinds. ‘Returning to the Town Centre within…

LGA Guidance on PSPOs: a campaigner’s guide

The Local Government Association has produced guidance on Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs), which may be useful to those seeking to oppose PSPOs locally or nationally. The guidance is non-statutory, and so councils are free to ignore it. But the guidance has advisory authority, and could be invoked by those seeking to oppose PSPOs in their area. It shows that there is some concern in councils and local authorities about the over-use of these powers, and efforts to direct them towards more reasonable uses. Some of the salient points in the guidance are below: 1. The LGA guidance suggests that PSPOs should target actually…

Petitions against the private litter police!

There are several long-standing and recent campaigns against the private litter police exposed on Panorama on 15 May. Here are some petitions below, highlighting the abusive practices in different areas. Read and share, or start your own.   ‘Stop the partnership between Kingdom and Ealing Council now‘ – a new petition to Ealing Council by Ealing Litter Prevention Team: In light of the BBC Panorama programme aired Monday 15th May 2017, which has illustrated the clear failings of Kingdom and their questionable working practices, we are calling on Ealing Council to drop their partnership with the company. Whilst we agree that action must…