Protesting the PCSC Bill – 8th December 2021

On 8 December, as the notorious Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill entered the Report Stage on the Lords, XR Oxford took part in a hastily assembled protest against its draconian ramifications. We began at 5pm in Bonn Square, then after friendly but ultimately fruitless negotiations with the incumbent busker, we went marching around Cornmarket and New Inn Hall Street, settling again at Carfax for chants and classic protest songs. The amazing and inspiring Samba Band kept energy high.

XR Oxford samba drummers march through Cornmarket Street

The PCSC Bill was a staggering attack on the right to protest in its initial form, but the series of amendments Priti Patel has now tacked onto it make it even more pointedly threatening to XR’s activities. Should these amendments pass, locking on, or simply carrying lock-on equipment, will be criminalised, as will disrupting major transport works, carrying a sentence of up to 51 weeks. The penalty for obstruction of a highway, previously a fine, has been increased to a possible 51 weeks in prison. Suspicionless stop-and-search will be introduced, and all protest-related material will be confiscatable.

A masked woman holds a placard reading "Protest has changed the world"

The window to oppose these amendments is closing: the Report Stage in the Lords, which could in theory see their rejection, ends on 17 January. The Digital Rebellion team have made it incredibly easy to contact Lords with your concerns about the amendments: just follow this link for a step by step guide. Act in your own time, or get together with others for a lobbying session.

We will be protesting again on the streets on 15th January, 12-2pm. Gather on Cornmarket and bring bike locks, and placards saying ‘The PCSC Bill means I could be arrested for this’ (or message of your choice). We will have samba and leafleting; most people know nothing about the implications of this bill – we need to raise awareness.

Want to know more about the Bill and the new amendments? This document collates some useful sources of ideas and information: Collated Information on the PCSC Bill, and Suggested Actions