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UK police demand protesters to hire own security firm

8 February 2015 14:23

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The right to wage demonstrations in the UK has been threatened after an official demand that climate change protesters must hire a private firm to oversee their planned march next month.

The development came as the group Campaign Against Climate Change (CACC) announced it was in effect being forced to “pay to protest,” after learning that its upcoming demonstration in London, which is expected to attract thousands, will carry a charge of thousands of pounds, the Guardian reported Saturday.

According to the report, after negotiating with the Metropolitan Police (Met), the Greater London Authority and Westminster city council, the organizers of the Time to Act march, which is supported by the Stop the War Coalition, Global Justice Now, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, Avaaz and Friends of the Earth, were told the law-enforcement authorities will no longer facilitate the temporary closure of roads along the agreed demonstration route.

This is while a similar protest held last September and attended by 40,000 people as part of a global day of action was policed by the Met.

However, a Met spokeswoman cited in the report said, “In previous years, the MPs may have undertaken this role but following a review of what services we provide, we have stopped doing this.”

According to the report, a large protest requires a temporary traffic regulation order to ensure public safety is maintained and congestion is managed.

Meanwhile, the Westminster council states that it will issue such an order only when the organizers of the march have produced a traffic management plan outlining who will steward the event and how.

Such bureaucratic barriers have enraged activist seeking to press for a green agenda before the next election.

“Protest is a fundamental right,” said Sam Fairbairn, national secretary of the People’s Assembly. “This will make it virtually impossible to hold a protest unless you have rich backers.”

“We’ve been told that the police will no longer close roads for protests and we need to hire a private traffic management company, both to draw up a plan for diverting traffic and to provide a team of specialist stewards on the day. Effectively what this means is we have to pay to protest,” he added.

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