Police weaponise PSPO to threaten arrest and shut down Christian preaching

15 February 2024

The Met Police have threatened to arrest Christian preachers accusing them of ‘hate crime’ and breaching anti-social behaviour legislation for preaching from the Bible in Uxbridge, London.

The story and viral footage comes after the London Borough of Hillingdon used a Public Spaces Protection Order in Uxbridge Town Centre to clamp down on Christian street preaching.

The story follows a Christian gospel singer, Harmonie London, last month being ‘moved on’ from performing ‘Amazing Grace’ on Oxford Street and being told by the police that Christian music was not allowed outside church grounds.

In recent months, the police have allowed a wave of mass antisemitic marches with protestors even calling for ‘Jihad’ in London without taking any action.

Video footage has now emerged of the police confronting Christian missionaries, including Pastor Dwayne Lopez, on Uxbridge High Street in west London on 10 February, outside the entrance to the Pavilions shopping centre.

‘Offended’ by the Bible

The clip was filmed after a member of the public complained to the police that they were ‘offended’ by the preachers reading from 1 Corinthians 6 v 9-20.

The police approached the preachers and one of them says: ‘Are you aware of the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO)? It’s a document by the local council and for example it [prohibits amplification.]’

The preacher responded saying: ‘Are you aware of freedom of expression and freedom of religion?’

The police officer shrugged and said: ‘Are you aware of the Public Spaces Protection Order?’ Another preacher says: ‘Surely section 9 and 10 trumps everything you are saying?’

‘Not really’, the officer responded.

A female officer then threatened to make an arrest for a ‘Public Spaces Protection Order breach.’

It is understood that this is not the first time that the preachers have been intimidated and shut down by the police. The PSPO was brought into Uxbridge town centre by the London Borough of Hillingdon in August 2023 under section 66 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act

As well as drug taking and urinating, the PSPO prohibits amplification, the displaying of posters and the distributing leaflets in Uxbridge Town Centre. However, it is being weaponised and extended by the authorities to essentially prevent Christian preaching in the designated zone.

In further video footage, it is revealed that the police have not approached the preachers because of the amplification, but predominantly because a member of the public has been ‘offended.’

The person who is videoing the officers says: ‘All we’re doing is preaching our religion. We’ve been preaching about the gospel and Jesus Christ [and what] the Bible says in the book of John, chapter three verse 16.

‘For God’s love of the world he gave his one and only son so that whoever, whatever person – homosexual, drunk, liar or a prostitute – believes in him shall not perish and have everlasting life.’

As the preacher continues to ask for clarification over what they have done wrong, two more officers appear and threaten to make an arrest unless he provides his details. Under the law, a street preacher does not have to provide their details to the police, but officers often ask for it, or even demand it.

One officer can be heard saying: ‘Currently there’s allegations of a hate crime, a public order offence, section 4a [and] allegations of homophobia.

‘I’ve not heard anything, I’m not saying I’ve heard anything. Someone’s called us. It might be completely untrue or true.

‘[But] if I do walk away and I see offences, and the victim wants to press charges… I could have failed a potential victim.’

They add: ‘If you don’t give me your name or address I have grounds to arrest you. It’s code of practice.’

A second officer reiterates that there has been an allegation of a hate crime which has caused ‘alarm or distress in a public space’.

They then demand: ‘Provide me your name now or you will be arrested. You can spend the night in a cell and we can do it that way.’

Accused of being ’emotional’, the preachers reply: ‘We’re just passionate’, and they pack up their belongings and move on.

‘We are determined to continue to preach the Good News’

Pastor Dwayne Lopez, who is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, said: “The Bible is not a banned book. When King Charles was crowned last year, he swore an oath on the Bible, a book which we are now being repeatedly punished for preaching from. We preach the simple message that we are all sinners and that love, forgiveness and hope is found in Jesus.

“Our message is not a hateful message. People will always be offended by something, but being offended is not a crime. We want the police to support us now instead of using the PSPO to persecute us.

“This was not an isolated incident and the police are persistently harassing us for preaching from the Bible in this area of London.

“The PSPO in Uxbridge is designed to intimidate us, shut us down and to prevent us from exercising our rights and freedoms. This is not about amplification, but the offense of the Cross.

“We stay polite and calm, but they often try to set traps to make us do something out of character.  

“The mission of the church is to reach everyone with the gospel. How we are being treated is unjust, but we are determined to continue to preach the Good News in Uxbridge.”

PSPO being ‘weaponised’

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said:

“The Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) in place in Uxbridge is being weaponised to shut down perfectly lawful activity. People are being taken off the streets for preaching from the Bible just because passers-by say they are offended. This amounts to a heckler’s veto and fundamentally undermines the freedoms we take for granted in this country. This should be a warning to us all. It is time to re-think the PSPOs.”

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