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Christian barrister calls for College of Policing to adopt a 'Street Preacher's charter'

by Kelly Valencia
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The College of Policing is being urged to adopt a 'Street Preacher's Charter' to stop more Evangelists from being arrested. 

In a letter, directed at the College of Policing's CEO, chief constable Andy Marsh, Christian barrister Paul Diamond argued police officers are being put in an "impossible position" of balancing free speech and their duty to maintain public order.

It comes as the number of street preachers being arrested in the UK has increased in recent years. 

Barrister Diamond - who has over 35 years of experience representing Christians in the UK and European Courts - told Premier the nature of Evangelical preaching and stretched police budgets resulting in fewer officers on the beat have resulted in many street preachers being arrested but released without charge. 

"Evangelical speech is actually a very controversial, free speech because it seeks to convert people. So it's particularly directed at people who don't want to hear what they're being told. It's also speech that involves concepts of sin and moral-ethical behaviour, which is contrary to current trends. But it's lawful speech," Barrister Diamond said. 

He continued: "On the other side of the equation, you've got police officers under-resourced, stretch on the beat.  It's simpler for them to arrest and move on to the next job. They are under great pressures and they often have a crowd baying at them to take some action." 

The charter would seek to "educate both sides" and would include things like definitions on "what is free speech, what controversial free speech is, and what is unique about religious free speech," and would also assist preachers in understanding the law.

Once set up, Mr Diamond would seek to promote the Charter through a variety of national church and Christian charity bodies, encouraging street Evangelists to sign up so that future preaching could be robust, within the law, but also offered with grace and acting as good ambassadors of the Church.  

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