About 20 protesters gathered to ‘Kill the Bill’ in Lincoln city centre on Saturday, one of several organised actions across the country.
The second wave of action followed a 200-person turnout at an event over the Easter weekend.
Activists from Extinction Rebellion and supporters of Socialist and Labour parties spoke out against the 300-page document — officially titled the Police, Sentencing, Crime and Courts Bill — which would give police more power to impose conditions on non-violent protests.
Protester Cas Potterton, 20, from Lincoln said: “If protest worked, they’d make it illegal — and that’s what they’re doing now.”
Mr Potterton believes the Bill’s arrival, in alignment with COVID-19 restrictions, was strategic.
“They think they can slip these things by without people noticing — we noticed,” he added. “It’s already hard to get people to listen, and if they take away this public platform it’s going to feel even more like a losing battle.”
Sandie Stratford, 68, from Lincoln has been a member of Extinction Rebellion for three years. Her main concern also regarded the right to protest.
“If you can’t challenge the way the laws are made and the laws that are being made, you have no voice,” she said.
Under the Bill, those convicted of “intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance,” defined as “serious harm to the public” including “serious annoyance, serious inconvenience or serious loss of amenity” may be fined or face time in prison.
Police would be allowed to impose time and noise limits for static protests and one-person demonstrations.
Socialist Party member Gavyn Graham, 33, of Lincoln said: “If a police officer decides I’m causing a nuisance, then they’ve got the right to impose a £2,500 fine.
“It’s going to make it practically impossible to demonstrate because it’s placing the power [in the hands of] individual police officers.”
But the Home Office disagrees.
“The majority of protests in England and Wales will be unaffected by these changes,” it says in its factsheet.
Crackdowns on unauthorised encampments — a threat to gypsy, Roma and traveller communities — and extending sentences from three months to 10 years for public nuisance offences are included in the PSCC bill.
MPs approved the PSCC Bill upon second reading, 359-263, on Tuesday March 16.
Widespread protest has delayed the Bill from moving forward.
On March 18, the Home Office announced it would pull the Bill ‘until later in the year.’