'A senior police officer has called for the government to change “outdated” protest laws amid a rise in threats against MPs.
In the wake of protests by the UK “yellow vests” and other Brexit-related groups stationed outside parliament, Metropolitan Police commander Adrian Usher said officers were struggling to enforce current laws.
“We need to move away from the language of ‘peaceful protest’ to talk about ‘lawful protest’,” he told parliament’s Human Rights Committee.
“A protest being peaceful is only one of the attributes police would assign to a protest to make it lawful.
“We are absolutely in the business of facilitating lawful protest [but] where protest steps over into being unlawful, whether you consider it peaceful or not is a moot point.
“We will conduct a sober review of our tactics against recent protest but I think it’s likely to say the legislation associated with policing protest is quite dated.
“Policing and protest has moved on and legislation should follow suit.”
Mr Usher said police would support parliament if members wanted new laws "to better protect itself and its immediate environment", adding: "Recent protest has showed us that the law is dated and not effective."
The committee heard that MPs and peers were experiencing “skyrocketing” levels of abuse and death threats over Brexit and other political issues.
Recent months have seen a number of high profile incidents of abuse aimed at MPs, including the pro-Remain MP Anna Soubry who was confronted by “yellow vest” protesters outside parliament.
Scottish National Party MP Joanna Cherry said she was followed and verbally abused after leaving the House of Commons during protests by Leave Means Leave on what would have been Brexit day.
"I also had the experience of walking across Westminster Bridge and being abused," she added. "There were no police around whatsoever and I was really scared, it was the most frightened I've never been in my life."'
Read more: Police call for change to 'outdated' protest laws after MPs threatened over Brexit
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