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Articles 10 and 11 of the Human Rights Act state that everyone has rights to free expression and assembly. How these will be interpreted by the courts remains unclear.
Legal observers of demonstrations which have turned violent have argued that the public has not been able to take action against officers because it has been unclear under what rules the police are operating.
While forces will be obliged to more precisely justify their actions, Article 11 does not prevent “the imposition of lawful restrictions … by the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the state”.
Some legal commentators have already suggested that the police’s approach to the UK’s fuel crisis protests of September 2000, where they didn’t break up blockades, may have been influenced by uncertainty over how the courts would interpret the balance between the public’s rights and the police’s duties.
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