A balance of rights and protections in public order policing: A case study on Rotherham

Jamie Grace


This article aims to discuss the difficult policing position of attempting to facilitate legitimate political protest; whilst planning to protect the public from harm arising from unlawful or violent protest. A kind of case study is undertaken, from this perspective, of public order policing challenges faced by South Yorkshire Police in Rotherham and elsewhere in that region, given the attention that the town and area have garnered from far-right protest groups such as the English Defence League and Britain First. Particular examination is given to the legal challenges inherent in public order policing, where the rights to lawful freedom of expressions and association for protesting groups must be balanced, in the view of the UK courts, with the rights to private and family life for members of the local community, in the face of what can boil over to become unlawful violence, bigotry and racism. Political innovation in the form of community-oriented advisory panels, seeking to influence police bodies undertaking public order policing in challenging situations, may actually be unnecessary given recent emphases made in key case law from the UK Supreme Court.

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