Demonstrators protesting the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill marched in central London this afternoon (Saturday, April 3) to voice their concern at the bill's purported assault on civil liberties in England and Wales.

Thousands of protestors marched through the capital from Hyde Park to Westminster holding placards with slogans such as 'Kill the Bill', 'Black Lives Matter' and 'Protest while you still can'.

They joined thousands of people across the UK on Saturday who oppose the introduction of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which would give the police the power to prevent protests and arrest protestors they deem to be too noisy or causing a serious nuisance, and has been labelled as authoritarian by critics from across the political spectrum. 

Into Saturday evening in London, protestors rallied in Westminster and listened to speakers including former Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn denounce the proposed law.

Addressing crowds in Parliament Square, Corbyn described the bill as "a very dangerous, slippery slope," and defended the right to protest.

"If we don’t protest, things don’t change," he said, which drew cheers and applause from the crowd.

News Shopper: Image: Jonathan Brady/PA wireImage: Jonathan Brady/PA wire

The Metropolitan Police for their part commanded a heavy presence at the London demonstration and said that most attendees had done their best to comply with coronavirus safety measures.

A spokesperson for the Met said:

"The majority of people at today’s events in central London have tried to adhere to social distancing and Covid legislation.

"A small minority are blocking the road at Parliament Square. Officers are on scene engaging and encouraging them to move so we can reopen the roads."

Gracie Bradley, the director of civil rights group Liberty, previously said that "parts of this Bill will facilitate discrimination and undermine protest, which is the lifeblood of a healthy democracy.

"We should all be able to stand up for what we believe in, yet these proposals would give the police yet more powers to clamp down on protest.

"They risk stifling dissent and making it harder for us to hold the powerful to account."

Under the law, which passed the House of Commons on its second reading with support from Conservative MPs, protests could be forcefully shut down by the police if they were deemed to be causing significant disruption to the public.

It also makes provisions to give authorities more powers to forcibly remove traveller communities that critics say will criminalise those communities.