published: 30 September 2019
Netpol has called the first major review of operational policing of public order and protest in almost a decade “fundamentally misguided” and has challenged the National Police Chiefs Council and College of Policing to justify offering guidance to local police forces that has no basis in law.
In August, the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) released its draft “Protest Operational Advice” that will provide national guidance to local police forces on how they conduct policing operations involving protests. The NPCC asked for comments on the document by 27 September.
As we noted in early September, the guidance makes much of the need for a “balanced and impartial approach” and in doing so draws heavily on Article 17 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). This “abuse clause” was intended to prevent anyone from exploiting the different rights set out in the Convention for their own interests.
However, as we have highlighted in a detailed submission to the NPCC and College of Policing, the case law on Article 17 is concerned fundamentally with hate crime and the destruction of rights by totalitarian regimes – there is no legal basis for using it to restrict the rights to free speech and assembly that may interfere with someone else undertaking lawful business activity. This is simply wrong in law.