Steve McCabe, MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, has raised concerns about ongoing protests outside a clinic in his constituency and is calling on the government to introduce legislation to limit such protests in order to protect vulnerable patients and staff.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service’s Birmingham South Clinic is currently being faced with protestors during the period of lent as part of a nationally promoted campaign. BPAS, West Midlands Police, local Councillors and the MP are in close contact to monitor the behaviour of the protestors. The Police say the protestors have not engaged in any criminal behaviour however BPAS staff and local people are still concerned about the emotional impact their presence will have on those seeking help.
Last year the same clinic experienced a series of stunts with individuals handing out graphic and inaccurate literature and obstructing patients trying to enter the clinic. At the time the Police served a Community Protection Notice on protestors as they were deemed to be harassing vulnerable patients and staff.
Several MP’s have raised concerns about the need for Buffer Zones around clinics to deter and prevent harassment as well as to protect women’s safety. Buffer Zones would provide comfort not only to visitors to such clinics but to staff who are having to run a gauntlet of intimidation and abuse just for doing their job. BPAS are leading a campaign called Back Off to seek new legislative protections for clinics faced with persistent protestors. Steve McCabe MP has written to the Home Secretary to ask for the Government to introduce legislation to protect staff and patients.
Steve McCabe, speaking about the protests said:
“I am in touch with both the clinic and police about these protests, this isn’t the first time we’ve had this problem. I understand from both the clinic and the police that at present the protestors are not committing an offence but the situation is being monitored and any constituents who think the protestors are engaging in criminal behaviour or causing harassment should report it to the police on 101.
“My view is that we need legislation for a buffer zone around the clinics to protect the interests of vulnerable patients and staff. Anyone who is carrying out campaigns designed to cause persistent alarm, harassment and distress should be charged accordingly.”
Councillor Liz Clements has also raised concerns about the protestors:
“I am concerned about the impact these ongoing protests will have on patients wellbeing, we must do all we can to ensure women can safely access medical services. It is important to find a balance between people’s right to protest peacefully and protecting patients and staff from intimidation and harassment, the Council are investigating resolutions to this reoccurring problem.”