Dispersal powers are discriminatory. anti-democratic, open to abuse and completely unaccountable.
The Network for Police Monitoring has today launched a new campaign to repeal powers under Section 35 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, which extended the police’s ability to dispense individuals from an area for up to 48 hours.
Police officers have been granted even greater levels of discretion about what constitutes ‘reasonable grounds’ to disperse people and it is far too easy for the police to use their new powers in an extremely restrictive way.
Since it was introduced, there is growing evidence that police are misusing these powers against vulnerable and often socially excluded people: teenagers, sex workers. the homeless, particularly in areas with a large black population. Section 35 powers are also increasingly targeting people exercising their democratic right to freedom of protest. These powers are used with absolutely no public oversight.
We believe it is time Section 35 is repealed.
Netpol is asking people to come forward with their own stories so we can build the case for the repeal of Section 35. We have already started to gather case studies where dispersal powers have been misused – and challenged – in a wide range of situations.