The Home Office has announced new laws to target protesters who cover their faces, climb onto public monuments, or use roadblocks and pyrotechnics as a means to protest.
The series of measures are part of a new criminal justice bill and follow police warnings that some protesters have used face coverings to conceal their identities to avoid criminal convictions.
Police already have the power to ask individuals to remove masks at protests, but this new crime will empower officers to arrest individuals who disregard their orders and offenders will face a month behind bars and a £1,000 fine.
Protesters who climb war memorials will also face a £1,000 penalty and up to three months in prison.
Flares and other pyrotechnics will be banned from protests, and protesters will no longer be able to cite the right to protest as a reasonable excuse to get away with disruptive offences, such as blocking roads.
In a video shared on X/Twitter, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the new police powers to crack down on what he called “intimidating and appalling behaviour.”
Sunak said some of the protests since October 7 have been marred by "far too many appalling examples of antisemitism, violent intimidation, and the glorification of terrorism."
He added that as a result, the police will be enforcing measures to "stop people from covering their faces to conceal their identity and evade arrest."
The PM said the laws would “stop people from being able to climb onto our sacred war memorials.”
"Those who abuse their freedom to protest undermine public safety and our democratic values, and I will give police the powers they need to crack down on this intimidating and appalling behaviour," said Sunak.
Home Secretary James Cleverly said: “Recent protests have seen a small minority dedicated to causing damage and intimidating the law-abiding majority.
“The right to protest is paramount in our county, but taking flares to marches to cause damage and disruption is not protest, it is dangerous,” Cleverly said.
National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Public Order, Chief Constable BJ Harrington welcomed the changes and said: “These changes are in line with conversations that we have had with the Home Office to ensure that we have the powers that we need to get balance right between the rights of those who wish to protest, and those impacted by them.”