Kill The Bill: West Yorkshire Police Federation Chairman 'glad' that 'illegal' Leeds Millennium Square protests passed peacefully
West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Brian Booth says he is thankful for “peaceful” protests in Leeds’ Millennium Square on Sunday.
Hundreds of protesters gathered peacefully outside Leeds Civic Hall on Sunday, March 21 to speak out against the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
The 307-page Bill, set out to give the police more powers to prevent protests and criminalise ‘serious annoyance’, has seen protests to its introduction rise across the country.
Most serious were the protests in Bristol on Sunday in which several hundred people broke from the peaceful protests to attack police officers and set fire to a police van.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Evening Post, Brian Booth, the West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman said: “Thank you for behaving yourselves and not showing the same traits as those in Bristol.
“But, on the other hand, gathering is against the coronavirus regulations, there is a danger and how people travel there is an increased public travel risk.
“Obviously these protests are illegal under the current coronavirus laws. But there has to be an acceptance that you can't stop people gathering once you’ve got a massive crowd.”
Protesters chanted “Kill the Bill” during the non-violent demonstrations and paid tribute to victims of assault by the police.
However, Booth called into question the necessity of the gathering, adding: “How long do you want to be in this lockdown?
"You're putting the country at risk, you could have these protests later on, at this moment in time we're on that tipping point, we've got the road to recovery. Why are we putting it at risk for demonstrations?”
The Bill intends to impose noise limits on future demonstrations and increase the maximum penalty for criminal damage from 3 months to 10 years.
“Ultimately its illegal, police officers have to do their job but I’m glad it did pass peacefully and we didn't see the same things happening in Bristol," he said.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has passed its second parliamentary stage and will undergo further scrutiny.