Police release statement on Kill the Bill Leeds protest as hundreds march from Millennium Square

Police have released a statement on a protest which saw hundreds of people march through Leeds city centre.

Friday, 2nd April 2021, 4:33 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd April 2021, 4:36 pm

The 'Kill the Bill' rally took place in Millennium Square at 1pm.

Campaigners were protesting against the proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which could give police extra powers to crack down on peaceful protests.

Around 400 protesters gathered outside Leeds Civic Hall to listen to speakers, before marching through St George Street and the Headrow, back to Millennium Square.

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Around 400 protesters gathered in Millennium Square before marching through Leeds

West Yorkshire Police have now issued a statement on the demonstration.

Chief Superintendent Kate Riley, who led the operation, said: "West Yorkshire Police is continuing to work hard to keep the public safe during the ongoing threat from Coronavirus and we are pleased today’s demonstration and march has passed off without incident.

“Officers engaged with those present to ensure public safety."

Police officers patrolled the protest and led the group as they marched from and back to Millennium Square.

Protesters march through the city centre

Chief Supt Riley added: “We are grateful that those who attended the demonstration did so peacefully, with no disorder or incidents of note occurring.”

The protesters have come under criticism from some members of the public who expressed fears about coronavirus.

Protesters were wearing masks, practicing social distancing and remained in groups of six while attending the rally.

However, the crowds gathered closer together as they marched through the streets of Leeds.

One protester said the issue was "too important" for her to miss the rally despite coronavirus restrictions.

How will the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill impact protests?

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill cleared its secondary parliamentary hurdle on March 16, after receiving a second reading by 359 votes to 263, majority 96, despite opposition to several measures contained within it.

Changes included in the Bill are plans to give police in England and Wales more powers to impose conditions on non-violent protests judged to be too noisy and thereby causing “intimidation or harassment” or “serious unease, alarm or distress” to the public.

Time and noise limits could be imposed as a result of the measures in the Bill and those convicted could face a fine or jail.

The wide-ranging Bill includes plans to bring in tougher sentences for child killers and those who cause death on the roads, longer jail terms for serious violent and sexual offenders, and expand child sex abuse laws to ban religious leaders and sports coaches from having sex with 16 and 17-year-olds in their care.

The Bill could also see the maximum penalty for criminal damage of a memorial increased from three months to 10 years.

Labour tabled an amendment intended to block the Bill from being considered further, although this was defeated by 359 votes to 225, majority 134.

The motion from Labour was based on support for some sections – such as tougher sentences for serious crimes including child murder – alongside warnings it “rushes” changes to protest law and “fails” to take action to protect women.

The Bill will undergo further scrutiny at a later stage.

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