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More scrutiny needed over power to ban prayers

Public spaces protection orders used against anti-abortion campaigners are ripe for a legal challenge, Laurence Wilkinson writes

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Apr 10, 2018
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Michael Hocken 3 months ago

Whilst I am also concerned about the potential for abuse of these sweeping powers by local authorities, which have a very poor track record as regards proportionality and reasonableness (such as their recourse to RIPA for intensive surveillance in school admissions cases), I simply cannot let the utterly spurious claim that moving on these clearly sometimes highly intimidating and cruelly emotive protests would “prevent charities from offering support to pregnant women who want to continue with their pregnancy” go unchallenged. 

Apart from the logical incoherence of the notion that a woman attempting to access an abortion clinic “wants to continue with [her] pregnancy”, it is patent nonsense that displacing these protests would “prevent charities from offering support”, and denies the reality of all the other, more effective, and caring ways of enabling or assisting pregnant women consider alternatives to abortion. Indeed, it makes one wonder frankly whether the author is concerned at all about genuinely helping individual women in such situations. 

At all events, I would strongly support a change to the law to require local authorities to seek judicial authority before they could enact such powers. This is far too important to leave to petty bureaucrats at local authority level, who have repeatedly shown themselves open to every sort of inducement and to systematically seek to pursue the populist agendas of those who determine their bonus payments.