"The above Bill is deeply flawed. It threatens our democratic rights for demonstrating on issues that concern us as citizens. Freedom of speech, association and assembly are corner stones of British democracy." Liz Bell - Newbury CLP Chair
Ahead of Parliament debating and passing the 2021 Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, Liz Bell the Chair of Newbury Labour Party has writen to Laura Farris MP to express our concern.
To: Right Honourable Laura Farris MP for Newbury
I would be grateful if you could give this your urgent consideration in advance of this evening’s vote in Parliament.
The above Bill is deeply flawed. It threatens our democratic rights for demonstrating on issues that concern us as citizens. Freedom of speech, association and assembly are corner stones of British democracy. It is also mind boggling that anyone could believe that the police need to be given increased powers to deal with demonstrations and protests, especially in light of the woeful scenes on Clapham Common this week where women, protesting about violence against women, were abused by police officers.
The legislation, which would grant powers to curb actions that “result in serious disruption to the activities of an organisation” or have a “relevant impact on persons in the vicinity”, has significant implications for peaceful protest. It also has significant omissions. Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy explained on Sunday that it could lead to harsher penalties for damaging a statue than for attacking a woman. He has also pointed out that in the 20 schedules, 176 clauses and 296 pages of the bill, women are not mentioned once.
Labour is instead calling on ministers to: Increase minimum sentences for rapists and stalkers; create a new street harassment law; introduce a new whole-life tariff for stranger abductor murder; commission a review into increasing sentences for domestic murder and providing a statutory defence for domestic abuse survivors; and legislate to make misogyny a hate crime. Lammy has also highlighted that rape prosecutions have fallen to an all-time low under the Conservatives, something that needs to be urgently rectified.
I would therefore urge you to vote against this Bill as it stands, and work in a cross-party way in Parliament to draft a Bill that would address many long standing injustices, and actually work for this country.
Dr Liz Bell
Chair Newbury Constituency Labour Party