Fundamental rights / Gypsy, Roma and Traveller rights / Protest rights

Poll: two thirds oppose Government’s protest plans

Posted on 28 Jun 2021

  • Liberty research finds strong public support for protest rights
  • Widespread opposition among public to planned restrictions
  • Findings back up calls from charities and campaigners to scrap dangerous proposals

Most Brits believe everyone should be able to stand up for what they believe in, and oppose plans to restrict this right, according to new research. The findings demonstrate how little public appetite there is for Government plans that threaten protest rights.

In a poll conducted by nfpSynergy on behalf of the human rights organisation Liberty, nearly two thirds of respondents (63 per cent) agreed that people should be able to attend a protest to stand up for what they believe in. When asked specifically about proposals that could restrict protest rights, a similar majority (62 per cent) said they were concerned about plans to criminalise protest.

Despite public support for protest, this Government has had long held ambitions to limit dissent.

The Government’s Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill (the Policing Bill) has been met with widespread criticism from charities, campaigners and activists. The Bill includes provisions that threaten the right to protest for everyone, including restrictions on noise, “nuisance” and locations of protests.

The findings add a new layer to the widespread opposition to the Government’s proposed legislation. This week, Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights condemned the planned protest crackdown as “oppressive and wrong.” In recent months, two UN Special Rapporteurs wrote to the Government calling on it to shelve plans to restrict the right to protest, and hundreds of academics and charities called for parts of the Bill to be scrapped.

The Bill also contains new police stop and search powers and a “prevent style” duty on knife crime which Liberty has warned will increase profiling and discriminatory over-policing of people of colour, as well as proposals that could criminalise the way of life of Gypsy and Traveller communities.

nfpSynergy polled 1000 adults between 30 March and 29 April 2021, finding:

  • 63 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement “People should have the right to attend a protest to stand up for what they believe in”, and only 9 percent disagreed. 70 percent agreed that “people should be able to stands up to power and challenge injustice”.
  • 62 per cent of respondents said they were concerned about plans to criminalise protest as opposed to only 28 percent who replied that they are not concerned.

Liberty’s Head of Policy and Campaigns Sam Grant said: “No matter where we come from or what we believe, we all want to know we can speak out against injustice and have our voices heard. In a democracy, protest is a key way we can do this, but those in power want to take this right away from all of us.

“These findings show that there is no appetite for the Government’s dangerous proposals, and widespread concern over such a broad attack on our rights. Those in power must listen to the chorus of opposition they are facing and scrap these plans.

“By protecting our right to protest, we protect each other, safeguard our rights, and ensure we can all stand against oppression and injustice, and for a fairer society.”

Contact the Liberty press office on 07973 831 128 or

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