New Laws Proposed to Ban Face Masks on Protests in the UK


Growing Concern Over Masked Protesters

The government's official adviser on political violence has recommended the introduction of laws that would allow the police to ban face masks on protests. This comes in response to recent pro-Palestine demonstrations in Britain, where masked individuals chanted anti-Semitic slogans, waved pro-Hamas material, and clashed with the police.

Call for Clearer Police Powers

John Woodcock, who advises Rishi Suank on countering political violence, has called for a law change as one of the key recommendations in his official review. A Whitehall source stated that the police should have clearer powers to ensure that marches can only proceed if protesters do not attempt to hide their identities to engage in violence or hate crimes.

Violence and Hate Speech Mar Pro-Palestine Marches

Pro-Palestine demonstrations that followed the October 7 Hamas terror attacks have been marred by violence, anti-Semitic slurs, and threatening behavior. Masked protesters have been photographed holding hate-filled placards and wearing pro-Hamas paraphernalia.

Stricter Measures Proposed

The current powers of the police allow them to instruct protesters to remove their face coverings when they are being used as disguises. However, the report recommends that the government goes further and makes a ban on face coverings an explicit condition for allowing a protest to take place.

Government Response Expected Later This Year

Lord Walney's report, which has been submitted to Downing Street and the Home Office, will receive a response from the government later this year. Former Home Office ministers Robert Jenrick and Priti Patel have expressed support for the ban, stating that face coverings are being used by lawbreakers to intimidate the public. They believe that a ban would increase arrests and successful prosecutions.

Law Enforcement Given Tools to Tackle Extremism

Home Office ministers emphasize the importance of giving law enforcement the necessary tools and powers to address protests and terrorism. They argue that the actions of these groups cause a waste of police time and resources and disrupt the public.

Government Aims to Understand Political Violence

The Independent Review into Political Violence and Disruption, led by Lord Walney, seeks to enhance the government's understanding of the activities of far-right, far-left, and other political groups. The report aims to identify when their actions cross into criminality and disruption. The government will respond to the report's recommendations in due course.

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