Police Bill Ping Pong

People do not approve of crackdowns on protest because there are times when they themselves want to protest. They want to protest about a crossing that is in the wrong place on their own road or to complain about cars idling outside their children’s school. People protest. It is all very well to call them “protesters” but actually they are just people.

Obstructing the highway should not land anyone in prison for a year. You can still be put into prison for a year even if the roads have already been closed by a traffic authority. When roads in Sheffield, sometimes quite minor ones, were closed for trees to be cut down, local people who were furious about that and were doing their best to stop it protested on those closed roads. Under the Bill, they could have faced up to 51 weeks in prison for protesting on their own road to try to protect their own trees. Peaceful protesters should never face jail. The original government amendment was bad and the compromise is also bad.

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Third Reading of the Police Bill: Last word

I have hated almost every minute we spent on this Bill over the days, weeks and months. I deeply regret that it will pass. I wish it had not been presented in the first place and I wish we had not been forced to let it through, but it has been historic. One of the things that has been historic is the united opposition to some of its worst parts. That is something the House can be proud of Continue reading “Third Reading of the Police Bill: Last word”

Repeal of the Vagrancy Act

The Vagrancy Act is relic of an age when being homeless was a crime, it made it a criminal offence to beg or be homeless on the street in England and Wales. The law was passed in the summer of 1824.

One of my favourite podcast interviews in the Jen’s Green Jam series was with Lord Bird, founder of the Big Issue. He spoke then about getting rid of the Vagrancy Act and afterwards, I was left wondering if it was one of those issues that had to wait for a change of government. Continue reading “Repeal of the Vagrancy Act”

Greens celebrate House of Lords defeat of draconian government ideas

The House of Lords inflicted a staggering 14 defeats on the government in one historic evening, with a further 5 government amendments being withdrawn.

The Lords seized their chance to reject most of the 18 pages of late government amendments to the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill. This forces Ministers to either drop these proposals or bring them back in completely separate legislation at a later date. The Lords only have this power on very rare occasions because the government introduced the amendments late and by-passed scrutiny in the commons.

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Police Bill: Monday vote explained

Since the last General Election gave the Conservative Party an 80+ seat majority of MPs in the Commons, they have pushed through some bad legislation. When these Bills come to the Lords, it’s our job to look at them line by line and try to improve them by carefully considered amendments. Which mostly the Tory-dominated Commons immediately throw out*.

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Police Bill Report Stage Day 4

I am very concerned about the Government undermining the doctrine that police on these islands gain their authority from the consent of the governed. Overuse of stop and search powers has deeply undermined community consent in many areas of the country and there are racial and socioeconomic disparities in who gets targeted by the police. These government severe violence reduction orders will create a new suspicionless stop and search power, and once a person is issued with one of these orders they could face unlimited interference from police officers. There should not be a power for the police to search without reasonable suspicion. Continue reading “Police Bill Report Stage Day 4”

Is your British citizenship in the public interest?

We now have a two tier system of British citizenship and if the Nationality and Borders Bill is published then millions are under threat of having their rights removed “without notice” by a Minister acting “in the public interest”. You can then appeal against deportation retrospectively, i.e. once you are out the country.

A lot of people will be surprised to learn that the Government already can—and do—remove people’s right to British citizenship. That is not new, but it means there is a two-tier system of British citizenship. The change is that the Government will now be able to remove people’s citizenship without any notice or warning whatever. The term “otherwise in the public interest” is so broad a discretion as to be almost meaningless. The Secretary of State can basically choose not to give notice on a whim. Of course, because citizenship will have been revoked without any notice, any judicial review or other legal challenge will only be able to be brought retrospectively.

In summary, the Bill is a continuation of the trend by this Government to remove individuals’ rights, undermine legal safeguards and view the legal profession as the enemy within.