A protest will be held today at Forbury Gardens, opposing a new government bill which would limit protest rights in the UK.

A group called Free Reading UK is organising the socially-distant peaceful protest, which will take place at 5pm today.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill passed its second reading in Parliament on Tuesday, March 16.

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If passed, it would give police significant leeway to stop protests on grounds including noise and disruption to the public.

The bill could affect the ability for protests that have taken place in Reading in the past few years, such as climate emergency and Black Lives Matters protests,  to go ahead.

Free Reading UK said: “If passed into law, it will massively restrict our rights to peaceful protests.

“The legislation as it currently stands would prohibit protestors from causing annoyance or inconvenience through the location, duration or noise level of their demonstration, effectively allowing police to criminalise any demonstration they do not like.

“A government which does not allow its people to be seen and heard is not a democracy.

“Join us in Forbury Gardens, Reading this Friday to speak out against the PCSC bill and protect our right to protest.

“Bring signs, a mask and flowers to lay on the bandstand in honour of all those failed by the system supposed to protect us. #KILLTHEBILL #PoliceCrackdownBill”

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If passed, police will be able to impose conditions such as start and finish times on static protests, powers which officers already have for marches.

Additionally, senior officers will be able to impose maximum noise limits on protests.

One-person protests could also be subject to restrictions by police.