Everyone who’s ever been to a protest in the UK knows it: the police are not there as neutral facilitators of your democratic rights, but to squeeze the joy out of protest and make it invisible to those in power. Recently, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act has given the police even more power to restrict protests they deem disruptive, or even just noisy.
To understand how we got here, filmmaker Morag Livingstone and solicitor Matt Foot researched the history of the policing of protest for a new book, Charged: How the Police Try to Suppress Protest. In this episode they tell Rivkah Brown how a fundamental right has been slowly destroyed. How does the history of empire affect policing today? Why do journalists so often take the police line? Gow can movements like Kill the Bill defend the fundamental right of assembly? And what does all this have to do with a secret policing manual written in 1983?