Police issue ‘protestors’ guide’ amid coronavirus confusion
Written by Rother Radio News on 10/10/2020
Police have drawn up a guide to protesting in South Yorkshire to help cut through the complexities of attending large-scale events without breaking the law while coronavirus restrictions are in place.
The move comes as concerns have grown nationally among politicians that members of the public simply do not understand the rules which apply to them – with the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings this week warning the government that communities will only comply when the rules are understood to be fair.
Political leaders in Sheffield are also braced for the government to announce stricter lockdown measures for the city anytime, as a result of new Covid-19 infections creeping above 300 for ever 100,000 people.
To help clear up the current situation regarding public protests, South Yorkshire Police have drawn up a ‘questions and answers’ guide which explains public protests can be organised outside the ‘rule of six’ law because Human Rights legislation allows for that.
But those organising such events have to meet a set of three rules meant to safeguard those attending from the threat of spreading coronavirus – with the threat of tough action for those who do not comply.
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While the guide confirms people have the right to attend events, they have to be organised by a specific group of organisations, including charities and political bodies, it also warns officers are prepared to take action where those rules are breached.
It states: “Where protestors are not compliant, we may need to take action in the immediacy or film the situation in order to take action at a later date.
“We’ll make this decision based on the risk presented at the time.”
Police can order people to leave protests which do not comply with the rules and can issue fixed penalties of up to £200 for first time offenders – and more for those who breach the rules again.
Organisers of protests deemed to break the rules can face fixed fines of up to £10,000, however.
The force insists others wanting to visit the city centre while protests take place have a right to do so, saying: “If we believe there may be issues or disorder, our policing response will reflect this concern so we can properly protect you and your right to go about your business peacefully.”