'Kill the Bill' and 'Reclaim These Streets' protesters march through Northampton
Police are monitoring the peaceful protest
Protesters have taken to the streets of Northampton this afternoon (Saturday) to make their voices heard over extra police powers.
The peaceful protest has seen scores of people march through the town as part of the 'Kill the Bill' protests and 'Reclaim These Streets' movement.
Police estimate 70 people have gathered, but those at the protest say there are at least three times' that amount present.
The Kill the Bill movement is against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which has proved extremely controversial, with protests against it taking place around the country.
Under current laws, police are only able to place restrictions on protests if there is a threat of “serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to life in the community”.
However, under the new policing bill, police chiefs would be able to set noise limits and impose a start and finish time on protests - these rules would also be applicable to a protest of a single person.
Those who fail to act in accordance with police rules could be issued a £2,500 fine, and police will be able to issue punishments to those who “ought” to have known about restrictions, rather than needing to prove that protesters knew.
Extinction Rebellion Northampton (XRN) said the new bill criminalises peaceful individuals for "simply standing against injustice".
The Reclaim These Streets movement was set up following the death of Sarah Everard, where national demonstrations against violence towards women took place across the country.
The demonstrations led to Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing tougher safety measures, including extra CCTV funding, as well as plans to introduce plain clothes police officers in bars.
Supt Rich Tompkins, who is leading the police operation in relation to the protest, said: “We are currently monitoring the protest in Northampton where approximately 70 people, including some children, have gathered to march through the town via St Giles Street, All Saints and the Drapery.
“This is a peaceful protest and all those taking part are socially distanced and wearing masks. While Northamptonshire Police tried to engage with the organisers before the event, without success, our officers are still seeking to engage with those taking part today. It is important we balance people’s lawful right to protest with the continuing and very real need to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
“Clearly this is a very emotive issue – the death of Sarah Everard has shocked so many people, including us, and we want to facilitate people in paying their respects.
“However, in the current climate with mindfulness of the global pandemic, and are asking people to seriously consider whether a protest is the right thing to do at this time.
“The protest is also causing some disruption to traffic in the town centre and we would urge people to avoid the area this afternoon while this action continues.”