Bolton TUC have contact all 3 Bolton MP’s outlining our concerns regarding the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill published last week as we see it as a blatant attempt to create an authoritarian police state.
Not only does this Bill contain numerous threats to the right to peaceful protest and access to the countryside, criminalise the Gypsy and Traveller communities’ way of life, as well as a whole host of expansive policing powers, but it is being rushed through parliament during a pandemic and before civil society and the public have been able to fully understand its profound implications.
Contained within this 307 page bill are plans to:
- Introduce draconian new police powers allowing them to decide where, when and how citizens are allowed to protest and have their voices heard;
- Increase penalties for those breaching police conditions on protests and the ease with which they can be found to have done so;
- Create a new trespass offence that criminalises the way of life of nomadic Gypsy and Traveller communities, this whilst the government manifestly fails to provide adequate sites and permitted stopping places, and has implications for the public’s right to protest, access to the countryside and people experiencing homelessness.
- Among other things, the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill will give Priti Patel powers to create laws to define “serious disruption” to communities and organisations, which police can then rely on to impose conditions on protests.
This is a huge bill, both in length and in potential consequences – for people calling for social change facing greater criminalisation by the state, for Gypsy and Traveller communities facing threats to their way of life, and for anyone who values freedom of expression and the right to make yourself heard against the powerful.
Just this weekend we saw that police have more than enough powers at their disposal at the Clapham vigil where instead of standing in solidarity and assuring women that they will strive to make the world a safer place, they apparently chose the Iron fist of repression.
Many trade unionists have experienced the hard edge of police power and are confident that the police and courts have all the power they need.
For a country that so often prides itself on its civil liberties, this Bill represents an attack on some of the most fundamental rights of citizens, in particular those from marginalised communities, and is being driven through at a time and in a way where those who will be subject to its provisions are least able to respond.
BTUC urge members of the public to contact their MP calling upon them to oppose the bill and call upon the government to fundamentally rethink its approach.