Bedford Oppose the Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill (the Policing Bill)
The government’s Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill (the Policing Bill) reaches
a crucial stage this month. Many people are aware that this Bill is a threat to basic civil
liberties but don’t realise how much worse it has become following a series of
amendments that have been slipped into the Bill at a late stage, without proper
scrutiny or debate. These amendments would:
Criminalise any protest that might “interfere” with infrastructure such as roads,
railways, oil refineries and printing presses. This could be used to ban all effective
protests, including protest against airport expansion and picketing by union
members taking industrial action
Criminalise protesters who attach themselves to another person, to an object, or to
land (“locking on”). This was one of the forms of protest used by the suffragettes in
their long campaign for votes for women.
Greatly expand police “stop and search” powers, allowing the police to stop and
search people or vehicles if they suspect they might be carrying any item that
could be used in prohibited protests. A prohibited protest is defined in the Bill as
any protest that has “a relevant impact” on or causes “serious annoyance” to any
two people within the vicinity of the protest, or that causes “serious disruption” to
any organisation. Material for use in protests might include placards, banners,
loudhailers or any other items commonly used by protesters.
Give police the right to stop and search people without suspicion, if they believe
that protest will occur in a particular area.
In effect the Bill gives the police, acting under instruction from government, the
power to stop any protest. The criminal offences created by the Bill and its
amendments carry a maximum sentence of 51 weeks in prison.
These are dictatorial powers that would remove some of our most basic
democratic rights and freedoms. They would enable the government, or future
governments, to turn the UK into a police state.
More guidance about what you can do to oppose here.