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Restore laws banning popup protests in Parliament Square says ex terror chief

Police arrested 16 people on Saturday after violent clashes between Brexit and Remainer protestors in the Square. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Mr Walton, who headed the counter-terror command until 2016 and is now a senior fellow at think tank Policy Exchange, said: “There is a need to balance the rights of ordinary citizens, parliamentarians, civil servants and tourists with the rights of protestors.”“It is time to re-set the limits of protest by confining it to allocated areas with strong and immediate enforcement of anyone attempting to block highways, roads and bridges, even momentarily. “New primary legislation is needed to redress the balance between lawful protest andserious disruption, especially in the vicinity of Parliament and Whitehall which should be re-designated as a specially restricted area, not least because – as we have seen on more thanone occasion – it is vulnerable to attack by terrorists. “The case for creating a new properly policed traffic free pedestrian zone in and around Parliament Square should also be explored.   “It is important for democracy and the restoration of the rule of law that protest does not intimidate and harass those in and around the seat of government, regardless of the debates happening in Parliament.”Mr Walton’s proposals follow daily protests in the square not only over Brexit but also black cab drivers bringing it to a standstill, the Extinction Rebellion occupation which led to traffic gridlock across London and other demonstrations. New laws should be introduced to restore order in Parliament Square by barring “pop-up” protests that are becoming a “national embarrassment” and dangerous, says a former anti-terror police chief.Just a day after violent clashes in the Square, Richard Walton, ex-head of the Met’s counter-terror command, said legislation requiring protestors to give seven days’ notice of demonstrations in the square should be reinstated after being repealed by the Coalition Government in 2011.In an article for The Daily Telegraph, he said police should also have new powers to impose conditions on such requests that would prevent protestors from blocking roads and causing traffic chaos by allowing officers to designate areas where they could be contained behind barriers.He said the current situation where police appeared powerless to stop protestors from insulting public figures, civil servants and members of the public had turned the square into a “circus, a safety issue and a national embarrassment.”Such moves have been backed by deputy speaker Lindsey Hoyle, who has raised concerns about the growing number of protesters congregating around the entrance to the Commons, suggesting they should be confined to specified areas in front of the building. Demonstrators with police officers on Parliament SquareCredit:Daniel Leal Olivas/AFP The Coalition scrapped laws require protestors to give seven days notice when it introduced an Act in 2011 to bar camping and the use of loud hailers, legislation designed to close down the “Democracy Village” encampment which had been set up outside Parliament more than a year earlier.Mr Walton said police were also constrained by human rights legislation protecting freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly. “The police’s ability to prevent or moderate protest is now extremely limited,” he added. Demonstrators with police officers on Parliament Square read more

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