Nationwide protests against police and crime bill

Thousands protested across England and Wales today against the government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which will be voted on by the House of Lords on Monday.

London march against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Photo: Andrea Domeniconi for Extinction Rebellion

The day of action against sections of the legislation on protest saw demonstrations in London, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff, Sheffield, Newcastle, Coventry, Liverpool and Plymouth.

Opponents have argued that the bill threatens freedom of speech. People who take part in peaceful protest could face harsh penalties, they said.

The bill allows police to ban marches and demonstrations that cause “serious annoyance”.

The Labour peer, Shami Chakrabarti, told a rally in Parliament Square in London the anti-protest provisions “represent the greatest attack on peaceful dissent in living memory”.

She accused the government of hypocrisy, saying it “bangs on about free speech and whinges about cancel culture” while clamping down on rights in the UK.

“Free speech is a two-way street. And you know what? The ultimate cancel culture, it doesn’t come with a tweet – it comes with a police baton and a prison sentence for nonviolent dissent.”

In Edinburgh, Extinction Rebellion Scotland campaigners walked from Holyrood to the the UK government offices.

Justin Kenrick said:

“The Police Bill is an attempt to silence the cry of women against gender violence, the cry of Black Lives Matter against racialized violence, the cry of climate activists peacefully fighting for our future. It will criminalize protest and also be used against Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities.”

Protest in Edinburgh, 15 January 2022. Photo: Laura Carreira for XR Scotland

Labour members of the House of Lords announced yesterday on Twitter they would oppose amendments made to the bill by the government before Christmas. Green, Liberal Democrat and some independent peers have already said they will vote against the measures.

The amendments seek to expand stop and search powers in the vicinity of demonstrations and give police the power to ban named individuals from protesting.

Added offences, which carry potential 51-week jail sentences, include the use of lock-on actions, a key tactic in anti-fossil fuel protests, and obstruction of major transport works.

Because the latest amendments were introduced in the Lords, they will fall if peers vote against them.

Last week, more than 350 clinical psychiatrists and psychologists signed a letter urging politicians to oppose the bill. They said it would have a “profound negative impact” on young people.

The letter said:

“Engaging in nonviolent protest is a democratic right that is part of such involvement, and restricting it in the manner envisaged in this bill will further erode young people’s trust in politicians, and their belief that their voices are heard, respected and matter.”

The Home Office has said it would always champion the right to protest peacefully and said the bill did not change that. A spokesperson said the bill was needed because of protests like those by Insulate Britain, when some campaigners glued themselves to motorways.

The spokesperson said:

“The measures in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will improve the police’s ability to manage such protests, enabling them to balance the rights of protesters against the rights of others to go about their daily business, and to dedicate their resources to keeping the public safe.”

14 replies »

  1. Strange that protests took place, that will still take place after the Bill, protesting against the Bill impacting their right to protest!

    In advertising terms, why need those putting the Bill through have any need of promoting their stance when the protests do it for them?

    • Supporting survivors and working to end Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG)

      Joint briefing for House of Lords ahead of Report Stage of the Police, Crime,
      Sentencing and Courts Bill
      Serious Violence Duty and Serious Violence Reduction Orders

      Click to access Joint-VAWG-sector-briefing-on-SVD-and-SVROs-for-HoL-ahead-of-report-stage-Dec-2021-1.pdf

      The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill is progressing to Report Stage in the
      House of Lords in December. As human rights organisations, migrant and expert organisations
      supporting survivors and working to end Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), we
      strongly reject any suggestion that this Bill will support women who have experienced abuse
      to secure safety and justice.

      2. Amidst a wider conversation that is happening about declining trust in policing,
      particularly in respect of VAWG, we believe that the enforcement-led duty – and
      its expansion of punitive surveillance – is fundamentally out of place and even
      counterproductive. The End Violence Against Women Coalition commissioned
      nationwide YouGov research that shows 47% of women and 40% of men reported
      declining trust in the police following the case’s publication of details surrounding the
      rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne
      Couzens.4 The reality is that the majority of survivors of abuse do not report their cases
      to the police, with Black, Asian, Minority and Ethnic (BAME) victims even less likely to
      do so. To further entrench an enforcement-led approach to tackling serious violence
      will only exacerbate mistrust among already-overpoliced communities, including Black
      and minoritised survivors and victims. The DAC herself has noted her concerns that
      “policing measures disproportionately [fall] on communities who are already
      minoritised and marginalised.”5 We believe that tackling violence against women and
      girls requires a more holistic approach which considers the experiences and needs of
      all survivors

      Continued next post

      • Continued from post above

        We urge parliamentarians to oppose the serious violence duty in Part 2, Chapter 1, and
        Serious Violence Reduction Orders in Part 10, Chapter 1, for the ways that they will
        further the punishment, criminalisation, and surveillance of survivors of VAWG and risk
        entrenching the inequalities already faced by Black, minoritised and migrant survivors.
        The Government must recognise the gendered experience of violence that is
        exacerbated by racial, socio-economic and other forms of discrimination. Rather than
        focusing on criminal justice measures, the Government’s focus should be on
        addressing misogynistic and discriminatory assumptions in the law and its systems
        and the structural issues that reinforce these.
        The underlying causes of VAWG are complex and it is therefore imperative the
        Government listens to expertise within the sector, including those supporting Black,
        minoritised, and migrant survivors. Any measures to address the issues require an
        intersectional approach and investment in education, addressing social-economic
        inequalities and better equipping of vulnerable communities to challenge VAWG.

        The increasing violence against Women and girls are hardly even mentioned in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, let alone legislated in order to prevent. Instead, it concentrates on a tiny case of obstruction to highways as an excuse to bring this bill into law.

        Considering the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens. The continuing accusations against the police in general for violence and sexual assault, inappropriate actions against women who were raped and the failures of the police to pursue the perpetrators of sexual violence to the extent where the police would rather prosecute the victim for daring to speak out about it.

        I see no reason to allow the police to be handed rights that no public citizen is allowed to act upon.

        Quite the opposite, the bill should be based upon bringing the police back into the fold of the UK public, and to be made to be responsible for their every action both in their duty, and off duty.

        Nothing less than a complete reevaluation of the police and their actions is required to be urgently applied, rather than give the police Draconian and anti-democratic rights to conceal their actions against the public.

        The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill should be scrapped entirely in its present interfered with format, and an entirely new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill to be formulated with the input from the public, in order to make the police truly legally, morally and ethically accountable to the UK public at the very least.

  2. Thank you for this, Phil. The Bill should be rejected out of hand as a Patel-driven attack upon democratic rights, highly evocative of the methods historically used by extreme right (and left) wing groups to render themselves untouchable by the voices of decency and moderation. We need look no further than Patel’s repulsive ideas for “controlling” immigration. If ever there was any doubt about the real intentions here and what is at stake, one need look no further than the methods used to incorporate excessively punitive clauses into the Bill. This Bill should be rejected together with Johnson and his ghastly mendacious cabal.

  3. But, in the real world, the arithmetic will make certain the Bill is not rejected. May be amended a bit, but will not be rejected.

    The input from the public has already been provided. It is called a stonking majority. Recent activities working against the interests of much of the UK public, will not win many votes.

    In around 3 years then it may be possible to reject and reverse the Bill. However, I have a suspicion that events during that period will suggest to the public that the measures were needed, and they may just continue their input.

    • Fortunately, in the Real World, (not that lower case fake impersonation “real world”), it seems that even the police don’t want this bill! Listening to the Radio 4 news announcement from the police today.

      The Old Bill Don’t Want The New Bill!

      This bill, if it creeps through without being torn apart, won’t have any constructive effect whatsoever. Quite the opposite. It will just make the police even more unpopular than they already are. That will make their job impossible and discredit the government even more than they are already.

      The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will become infamously inoperative, the police will become socially and professionally excluded and discredited. The House of Lords will be equally vilified and disbanded. Not wanted on voyage.

      Just as with Extinction Rebellion and their sacrificial adjunct Insulate Britain, those on the front line of the police are without a doubt acting out of their own moral ethical and legal responsibilities. However, it is their control freak management, corrupted by government, that have betrayed their actions to force them into the government’s duplicitous dogma.

      Eventually, as the best of the police are winnowed out, because they won’t be forced to break Common Law, the Geneva Convention, The Human Rights Act, the Helsinki Agreement and the Nuremberg Code. What will be left, will not be worth having in any capacity. Just like this government.

      Always a pleasure!

      Have A Nice Day!

  4. “Listening to Radio 4”.

    Rubbish in, rubbish out.

    Is that the Radio 4 that feeds opinions for others to imply they are facts? A waste of space. Just a duplication of what can be obtained on line.

    The Old Bill will have the New Bill. Fact. Will they have any more issues with the New Bill than they have had with previous changes of legislation? Nope. Just be a lot more of them to manage it. That’s Priti good.

    Police are not unpopular with those who follow laws, and those who want laws that protect their rights. Pretty unpopular with those who want to do what they want and have no regard for others they impact-and ever thus.

    • Oh, Dear? Oh, Dear? Hoist by your own petard again, old thing? Interesting how professional conduct in ethics and morals trashes totalitarian dictatorial edicts, isn’t it?

      The Old Bill don’t want the New Bill. That’s official, straight from the police themselves. Fact.

      Shame? After all that empty logic, straight from the hoist petard too? The Real World jumps up and trashes the fake narrative. No amount of fake news and anti-BBC rhetoric will change that. The truth is the truth, old thing. Regardless of source.

      The Geneva Convention states that officials are instructed not to obey orders that contravene the safety of their public who they are there to protect, not to repress.

      The police themselves would rather obey the Real World common Law and be responsible to the UK public who pay their wages, much more than be forced to obey Priti’s priti ugly bill.

      You can’t change human nature. The police will follow their conscience, as should everyone.

      Nice try, but no cigar.

  5. Oh dear.

    So all the police were giving their view on Radio 4??

    The old “everyone” con. Obviously fooled someone even though it was warned against above. Opinion suggested as fact. Obviously works.

    Next, you will suggest Union “barons” who speak on behalf of their members, possibly with 5% voting them into office, speak for their members! Or, the BMA, represent their members views all the time?

    It is a very interesting world you see, but in the real world things are somewhat different. I have a young friend who appears as naive, but I trust as he observes he will learn.

    Officials should not obey orders that contravene the safety of their public. Fine, that includes people trying to get to hospital. Now the police will have stronger powers to make sure that is not contravened. Are there more people interested in being able to get to hospitals and go about their lives compared to numbers who wish to protest? Yes. Are there more people who wish to use banks rather than rob them? Yes.

    So, the Bill will be passed.

    Petards and hoisting?

    • Oh Dear, Oh Dear? Still desperate to have the last empty rhetoric word? That’s more than usually a load of desperate prevarication, old thing? Even for you?

      Looks like that petard of yours is well and truly hoisted up to the stratosphere and back in disarray too? Judging from that load of old empty rhetoric in lieu of anything resembling the facts.

      It doesn’t matter any more if the bill is passed. Though I expect it will be torn apart and rewritten again with the democratic benefit of all the public in mind. Either immediately after or very soon afterwards. The Real World point is, that the police have clearly stated in the BBC Radio 4 live interview with the police themselves, that the bill was clearly said to be practically unworkable and will only serve to distort and confuse the public to the extent where the police and the government will no longer be trusted in any capacity. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill is not constructive by default, it doesn’t solve any of the major problems. Some lesser clauses only tidy up a few loose ends, nothing more. The major changes to the original bill itself, however, is destructive of the trust that the police are held by the public. What is left of that trust, anyway.

      The entire excuse for this anti-democratic totalitarian bill was a few road blockages for a few days by Insulate Britain. There are already perfectly appropriate laws to deal with that, as there always have been.

      No violence, no major concern. Whereas the government itself locked down the entire country for months on end more than once. Who….(W.H.O.?) is worse?

      Perhaps there should be a Government, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill? Judging by the recent Whine and Sleaze (Working?) Party excuses contrary to their own regulations throughout the lock-downs? Perhaps Boris, and his Whine And Sleaze Working Party Party, should be Locked Down and Locked Up for their own corruption?

      That distrust of the police is already quite severe amongst girls and women, since the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens. There are several other court cases and police resignations for similar acts by police constables. That Fact is very much in the mind of every female I know. Not one of them trusts the police any more. They warn their sons and daughters not to trust the police as well. All perfectly law-abiding, too, I might add, just to circumvent your inevitable evil insinuation otherwise.

      The last minute rewrites by Priti Patel, consisting of some 18 pages of insane extra paranoia and fundamental changes that entirely contravened its initial reading and passing to the House of Lords, was not only anti-democratic in its lack of approved process, it indicates a great deal of criminal fraud, presumably hoping no one would challenge it.

      That’s the anti-democratic Priti Patel for you. However, governments come and go. This government will be the first to go with just about as many lies and corruption, and fake excuses for breaking their own rules. To the extent where everyone will be overjoyed to see the back of them. Preferably behind bars.

      Have a Nice Evening.



  6. And another thing. I t would be fascinating to discover, just why the usual fossil fuel protagonists on Drill or Drop, want to have an anti-democratic totalitarian bill passed as a statute in the first place?

    Just what is so attractive about an anti-democratic totalitarian The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill? Does that attempt to begin the process to turn this entire country into a fascist police state?

    In which case. The protagonists and promoters of such an anti-democratic totalitarian The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill, are the sworn enemies of freedom and democracy in England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland, just as they were in the 1930s!

    And should be treated accordingly.

  7. More delusion.

    If you wish to comment on the process to produce legislation, best to check how it works.

    I suggest you should rest your case. Whilst you are resting, have a look at Ping Pong, and how that produces legislation. It is a tedious process but that is what the UK is used to. Any Government with a stonking majority can and will pass what legislation is supported within their stonking majority, in spite of Ping Pong. I see no sign that there are rebels within the stonking majority to change this quite normal process.

    I watched the debate last night about the Election Bill. Lots of groups in HoC believed they would overturn the stonking majority, but the arithmetic won because it always does. Until the arithmetic changes, and it won’t for around 3 years, that will continue.

    [Edited by moderator]

    • Well? Well? It appears that someone doesn’t like the defeat and rejection of the totalitarian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill late last night and this morning? Back to Priti Patel’s overloaded inbox it goes.

      [Edited by moderator]

      Never mind, no doubt Priti is scribbling away to present yet another rejectable tome of totalitarian invective as we (Hey! I did another “we”?) “Communicate”… gently and gracefully?

      A better one, judging from the lies and aviodances of the truth by Boris, would be the Government, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill? Much more appropriate to the Real World issues of the day.

      [Edited by moderator]

      Always a pleasure!

      Have a Nice Day!

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