United Kingdom lowered in Civic Freedoms Index

United Kingdom lowered in Civic Freedoms Index


Jakob Lindelöf

Europe and Human Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence


According to the organisation Civicus Monitor which provides oversight on the status of civil society in 197 countries, the United Kingdom has downgraded their level of civic freedoms to a level on par with countries such as Hungary and Poland (Butler, 2023). According to the organisation, the UK currently scores 60 out of 100, whilst Hungary and Poland score 49 and 51 respectively. Stephanie Draper, the chief executive of the Bond charity, said that the UK has created “a hostile environment” for civil society (Butler, 2023).


This reduction in civic freedoms is primarily seen in the right to protest in which the British government has in recent years tried to restrict with the implementation of news laws such as The Public Order Bill introduced last year that is currently in the process of being implemented and the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act that came into effect in April of 2022.


The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act places restrictions on civil society by allowing police to put specific conditions and restrictions on public protests, their ability to ban protests if they are “noisy" and criminalises one-person protests (Liberty, 2022). The Public Order Bill seeks to further the power police can take against those engaging in protest. It seeks to target groups that use disruptive tactics such as glueing themselves onto surfaces (such as buildings or roads), the blocking of highways by protestors, increasing powers to stop, search and seize objects that can be used in protest (McGree, 2023; Home Office, 2023). 


In regards to the protests by groups such as the Extinction Rebellion, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the following, “We cannot have protests conducted by a small minority disrupting the lives of the ordinary public” (McGree, 2023).


Sources and Further Reading:

Amnesty International UK. (2022, April 27). UK: Dark day for civil liberties as 

'deeply-authoritarian' Policing Bill passed by Lords. Amnesty International UK. Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/uk-dark-day-civil-liberties-deeply-authoritarian-policing-bill-passed-lords


Butler, P. (2023, March 16). ‘Hostile, authoritarian’ UK downgraded in civic freedoms index. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/mar/16/hostile-authoritarian-uk-downgraded-in-civic-freedoms-index


Liberty. (2022, April 29). The Policing Bill- What happened, and what now? Liberty. Retrieved from 



Home Office. (2023, March 14). Public Order Bill: factsheet. UK Government. 

Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/public-order-bill-overarching-documents/public-order-bill-factsheet

McGree, L. (2023, January 17). The British government wants to hand police unprecedented powers to handle protesters. Human rights activists say it’s an affront to democracy. CNN. Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2023/01/17/uk/uk-public-order-bill-police-protests-intl-gbr-cmd/index.html