We need to protect our City and our Police from right wing (or left wing) thugs
Last Saturday we saw some disgusting sights in the centre of Liverpool when a bunch of thugs called the North West Infidels came to Liverpool not to debate their views but to have a fight. They are part of that small group on the far right that knows that few people agree with them and that they would get no reporting for their odious views unless they are deliberately provocative.
According to the Liverpool Echo the Mayor will seek tonight to move a motion at council calling upon the Government to give him the power to block such demonstrations and marches. I applaud and support the motives of the Mayor but, from what I have seen, cannot support his suggested way forward.
I will be seeking to move an amendment to the motion proposed by the Mayor of Liverpool. As I have not yet seen the motion I can only make assumptions about the details of how I would amend it. The amendment is likely to read:
Council believes that final authority for deciding on whether or not marches or demonstrations should take should be made locally.
It notes however that the position of Mayor might be removed next year and that in any case the Mayor of Liverpool is not the senior elected representative in Liverpool responsible for policing matters. That is the Elected Police Commissioner.
It believes that the Elected Police Commissioner acting on the advice of the Chief Constable should be able to ban marches or demonstrations if they have cause to believe that:
• Such a march or demonstration is designed to produce violence or damage to the fabric of the City; or
• Where policing of such an event would produce costs disproportionate to the number of people involved in it.
I believe that we move into dangerous ground when politicians start to make decisions about who can say what and where. I believe that the power to ban marches or demonstrations should be made locally but by the Elected Police Commissioner who must do it on the advice of the Chief Constable. The grounds for banning such a march or demonstration should not be whether you think the views to be expressed would be odious but because it is likely that the reason for holding the event is to cause trouble. This would be the legal equivalent of ‘going equipped’ where the Police can take action without a crime having been committed if they believe it likely that crimes would be committed.
If we are to localise the powers we all want then there must be found a way forward which brings into play sufficient legal safeguards to protect both legitimate politicians and Police. We must also recognise that odious views are not, in themselves, sufficient reasons for banning political action.