Protesters face difficulty at Conservative party conference

Protesters claim Greater Manchester Police are enforcing greater restrictions at this year’s Conservative party conference.

With the Tory party conference arriving in Manchester city centre, thousands of protesters came out in their masses on Sunday. 

However, the few who remained today were met with a different reception from the police with coaches being pulled over and others met with section 14 public order offences.

Political activist Steve Bray said: “The police in Manchester have totally shut down the way we protest. 

“It is an abuse of power that is unacceptable, they have interfered with a democratic protest which is unobstructive”.

This comes nearly two years on from the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill – which proposed a wide range of police powers when it came to protests – being passed into law.

The bill has long been considered controversial and led to mass Kill the Bill protests with many considering it to be a democratic right to peacefully protest.

Yet, others felt that the police had done nothing to affect their protest but still found them to be have a dominating presence in the city centre.

One activist said: “I have found the police presence to be intimidating. It is obviously a strong presence but it has not been a problem for us.”

Not all protesters were unanimous on this matter, as others thought their presence was vital in keeping them safe particularly when discussing such contentious matters.  

Another added: “The police are great. They look after me when there’s trouble and I have nothing against the police.”

With the conference running for the remainder of the week, striking the balance between free protest and security will be a continual challenge for GMP. 

GMP have been approached for comment.

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