The Countryside Alliance has written to Police & Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables across the country to make sure police officers are fully aware of changes that make it easier for them to require protestors to remove face coverings being worn to conceal their identity.
Lobbying by the Countryside Alliance saw changes made to the powers passed in Parliament earlier this year. In the past police constables on the ground faced with masked protestors, such as those trying to disrupt lawful activities such as shooting or hunting, have not made use of section 60AA powers due to the requirement for prior written authorisation. With the change in the law there is now no reason why the powers under section 60AA should not be used to their fullest extent.
Tim Bonner, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, said:
“While the Countryside Alliance fully accepts that people have the right to peaceful protest those who intend peaceful and lawful protest should not need to conceal their identity. The use of balaclavas, other face coverings, and paramilitary style clothing is threatening, provocative and should have no part in lawful protest.
“The Countryside Alliance hopes that the change in the law will do much to ensure fewer violent incidents in rural areas.
“It is only right that police officers are in the position to be able to tackle effectively potentially criminal behaviour wherever it arises. The amendment makes it more practical to use existing powers and we now expect the police to make full use of them. This change in the law will discourage unlawful activity, whilst allowing lawful and peaceful protest.”