Proposed police powers to remove face coverings and impose curfews are being put to public consultation.
The Home Office today launched the study to consider how to give officers more tools to tackle disorder in the light of the summer riots.
It comes as the Home Secretary hosts an international forum as part of the cross-government work she is leading on gangs and serious youth violence.
The police, the public and campaigners will be asked for their views on the proposed new powers and the best way to introduce them.
Consultation questions are also being posed on Section 5 of the Public Order Act, which makes ‘insulting’ behaviour a criminal offence.
Minister for Crime and Security James Brokenshire said:
‘It is essential the police have all appropriate powers at their disposal to maintain public order.
‘We must ensure officers on the ground have all the necessary legal measures available to them to protect our streets and keep the public safe.
‘But we must also make sure any new powers do not trample upon traditional British freedoms - that is why we are seeking public views on the powers the police really need to keep our communities safe.’
Among key questions being posed in the consultation are:
- whether keeping the word ‘insulting’ in Section 5 risks criminalising free speech
- if removing ‘insulting’ from Section 5 could expose vulnerable groups to attack, prevent police officers from arresting people who swear at them or risk greater incitement from confrontational protests
- how police powers to remove face coverings can be extended while remaining proportionate
- whether the police need additional curfew powers
The consultation opens on the Home Office website today and will run until 13 January 2012.
Notes to editors
To take part in the consultation, go here http://www.homeofficesurveys.homeoffice.gov.uk/v.asp?i=41428bwhlr
The Police Powers for Public Order consultation seeks views on:
- reform of section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 to remove the word ‘insulting’
- extending existing powers under section 60A A of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to allow officers to take decisions on face coverings without prior authorisation and on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity
- additional powers to impose curfews to strengthen the response to disorder and crime
- For more information, contact the newsdesk on 020 7035 3535