As part of efforts to overhaul the justice system, the Government is proposing a raft of measures in its Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill, which is due to receive its second reading in the House of Commons on Monday.
It includes plans to give police more powers to tackle non-violent protests which cause significant disruption to the public or on access to Parliament.
But police and legal figures have warned this could pose a threat to democracy.
Sir Peter Fahy, former Greater Manchester Police chief constable told Times Radio there was a “real danger” that rushed legislation could make the job of the police “more difficult”, adding: “People need to be really worried about this.”
He said: “If we’ve learned one thing this weekend, it’s the right to protest, the right to gather, the right to have a voice is fundamental to our democracy, and particularly British democracy.
“And bringing in legislation on the back of the Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion demonstrations, rushing that legislation through, putting in some really dodgy definitions which the police are supposed to make sense of…
“Again, if we’ve learned one thing from the coronavirus legislation, (it) is that rushed legislation and unclear definitions cause huge confusion for the public and for the police having to enforce it.
“This weekend has shown the crucial importance of the right to protest, and you’ve got to be really wary of more legislation being rushed through just because certain politicians didn’t like certain protests during the summer.”
Human rights barrister Adam Wagner, of Doughty Street Chambers, warned the Bill could “hugely expand” police powers to “allow them to stop protests which would cause ‘serious unease’ and create criminal penalties for people who cause ‘serious annoyance’.”
He added: “This would effectively put the current situation where Covid regulations have given police too much power over our free speech rights on a permanent footing.”
The wide-ranging Bill will look to bring in Whole Life Orders for child killers and allow judges to hand this punishment out to those aged 18 to 20 in exceptional cases, such as for acts of terrorism causing mass loss of life.
Life sentences could also be imposed on killer drivers, and automatic release halfway through jail terms could be ended for serious violent and sexual offenders.
Under the proposals, child abuse laws could be expanded to see religious leaders and sports coaches banned from having sex with 16 and 17-year-olds in their care.
Also, the Bill could bring in court orders to help crack down on knife crime and to give police powers to make it easier to stop and search those suspected of carrying a blade.
It also plans to increase the maximum penalty for criminal damage of a memorial from three months to 10 years and crack down on unauthorised encampments.
The proposals seek to place a legal duty on councils, police, criminal justice bodies, health and fire services to tackle serious violence and share intelligence.
As part of the Bill, deaf people could sit on juries for the first time, with sign-language interpreters allowed into jury deliberation rooms.