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Police urged to pay more attention to ‘extreme left-wing’ protesters | Politics News

Police should pay more attention to far-left extremists and new laws are needed to limit the right to protest, an independent government adviser has said.

In a new report, crossbench peer and former Labour MP Lord Walney said the UK was at a “crossroads in our democracy”.

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While far-right extremism was well recognised, he said “too little attention has been paid to serious forms of violence, intimidation, and incitement of hatred on the extreme left”.

He said such movements could cause “enormous economic damage and drain police resources”, warning it was “imperative” for the government to tackle it.

Lord Walney, who is the government’s independent adviser on political violence and disruption, identified a “broad far left subculture” involved in environmental campaigns, anti-racism and anti-Israel activism, which he said had anti-capitalist, anarchist, and anti-establishment ideologies.

He claimed the government should address the gaps in knowledge within departments and law enforcement of the ideologies, tactics, and actors within what he called the “extreme left-wing and anarchist” protest movements.

The intelligence services and Home Office should classify threats based on an assessment of their “tactics for achieving change, and their vision for the world they want to create,” he added.

And police officers, along with the Crown Prosecution Service, should maintain and regularly update an internal list of images and symbols associated with proscribed organisations, before publishing guidance about statements, chants, and symbols that constitute an offence.

lord walney
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Lord Walney is an independent adviser to the government who sits as a crossbench peer in the Commons. Pic: Sky News

Home secretary to ‘carefully consider’ recommendations

Lord Walney also called for powers to make groups who disrupt highways and businesses – such as Just Stop Oil, Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain – pay compensation.

And he wanted more use of undercover policing against protestors, along with a new law that allowed police to consider the “cumulative disruption and harm” of protests when deciding whether to allow or ban them.

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Such harm could include the increase in antisemitic hate crime experienced following the Gaza protests, he said.

He also advised the government to consider introducing an exclusion zone around parliament to protect MPs.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said he would “carefully consider” the recommendations.

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Police officers remove a Just Stop Oil protester who was detained during a protest near Whitehall in November
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Lord Walney suggested protest groups should pay towards policing events. Pic: PA

Somewhat ironically, the report arrived shortly after the High Court ruled the Home Office acted unlawfully when it granted new powers to the police to tackle protests last year.

Introduced by then home secretary Suella Braverman, the move lowered the threshold for police intervening in demonstrations and has since been used to arrest hundreds of people.

Ministers had tried to introduce the same changes when the Public Order Bill went through parliament, but they were rejected by the Lords at the time by 254 votes to 240.

Ms Braverman then forced the changes through without the usual parliamentary scrutiny.

The High Court’s ruling came after campaign group Liberty brought legal action against the Home Office.

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