Police review on slow track as draconian powers accelerate

The government has pushed through more and more draconian powers for the police to use against peaceful protestors. Yet trust in police integrity, standards and culture has never been lower. There are now six police services (including the Metropolitan Police) who are in special measures. Plus the government has launched their own review after numerous scandals have exposed issues with police recruitment and attitudes:

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Public Order Bill committee stage day 1

This is clearly rubbish legislation. For example, there is a lack of a definition of “serious disruption”, what about arresting the Government for serious disruption to the NHS over the last 12 years? I would support that. The criminal courts in this country are crumbling and cannot cope with the number of cases that they have at the moment. Yet here the Government will insist on more cases which will clog up the courts even more. This is so right-wing; it is not an appropriate Bill for a democracy. Continue reading “Public Order Bill committee stage day 1”

Police and crime commissioners and panels

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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”