ORGANISERS of a protest scheduled to take place in the city today say they plan to "step up" opposition to a controversial bill.

Hundreds of people are expected to march through the city in the fourth demonstration against the government's new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill.

The demonstration which is set to take place at 1pm in The Level, is part of a “national weekend of action" across the country.

The controversial bill looks to increase the maximum penalty for criminal damage of less than £5,000 to a memorial from three months to ten years’ imprisonment, the same maximum sentence for non-sexual child abuse.

It would also grant police additional powers to restrict protests by imposing start and finish times and setting noise limits.

Jack Curry, an organiser of the Brighton Kill the Bill protest, said the legislation is an "attack on civil liberties".

He said: "Most of the Bill is hugely problematic.

'For example, plans to increase the maximum sentence for damaging a statue from three months to 10 years would put vandalising an inanimate object on par with stalking and sexual assault in the eyes of the law.

"It could create a situation in which someone gets more prison time for damaging the statue of a slave trader than someone convicted of sexual assault or rape.”

“There are also plans to expand the powers of stop and search, which we already know disproportionately targets young black men.

"It is clear the government has not listened to the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“The Bill is a wide-ranging attack on civil liberties because it not only gives the police and Home Secretary draconian powers to shut down protests they deem inappropriate, but discriminates against Roma and Traveller (GRT) Communities who are already facing huge levels of persecution at the hands of the State.”

Demonstrators caused disruption to the city's taxi and bus services last time the protest took place on April 3.

Protests staged a sit-in under the Jubilee Clock Tower, which caused bus services to get stuck on North Street for more than 30 minutes.

Passengers abandoned their journeys as drivers were forced to find an alternative route to avoid the city centre.

As hundreds marched through the city one woman was arrested after blocking the A259 in Brighton, at the junction with Madeira Drive.

Some lockdown rules were eased on Monday, meaning “Covid-secure protests or picketing” are now permitted.

According to the coronavirus guidance issued by the government, protests can go ahead “where the organiser has taken the required precautions, including the completion of a risk assessment.”

Before the rule change, organisers of gatherings involving more than 30 people faced £10,000 fines.