In response to the campaign on buffer zones outside abortion clinics, David said:
"I am aware of a number of recent protests outside some abortion clinics which is a very serious matter. This country has a proud history of allowing free speech but the right to peaceful protest does not extend to harassment or threatening behaviour. However, while I should make it clear from the outset that the policing of protests and the use of powers are an operational matter for the police, I am pleased to say that the law does currently provide protection against such acts.
The police have a range of powers to deal with protests outside clinics. Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, makes it an offence to display threatening, or abusive words or images that, within the sight of someone, is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 allows the police to place conditions on the location, duration or numbers attending a public assembly. This can be applied where the police believe that the assembly may result in serious public disorder, serious damage to property, serious disruption to the life of the community, or that the purpose by the assembly organisers is to intimidate others to compel them not to do an act that they have a right to do.
The police also have dispersal powers (in public places) under sections 34 and 35 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, to remove or reduce the likelihood of members of the public being harassed, alarmed or distressed, or to prevent local crime or disorder. The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 includes criminal offences that protect individuals, who are conducting lawful activities, from harassment by protestors."
More information about the campaign can be found here.