8 September, 2021
The Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is to be put before the House of Lords for its second reading on Tuesday, 14th September.
As it stands, the passing of this Bill threatens to impinge greatly upon our rights to freedom of assembly and expression, and the public’s ability to hold the Government to account.These are fundamental rights, and essential components of any functioning democratic society.
The MCB’s more specific concerns around the Bill include:
- No compelling case for new legislation proposed, or evidence that expansive body of existing legislation is insufficient
- Sweeping powers proposed for senior police officers, and the Secretary of State, which would effectively allow the State to greatly restrict our ability to assemble in protest
- New legal reporting duty on bodies such as local authorities, heath care providers and youth services, mirroring the widely discredited Prevent duty that has disproportionately impacted Muslim communities
- Plans for a new civil order- The Serious Violence Reduction Order (SVRO), which would hand the Police extraordinary powers to stop and search a person at any time, in any place, without any cause for suspicion, likely to further impact Black and ethnic minority communities
- Proposals to criminalise unauthorised encampments and trespass, posing significant risk to the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities’ way of life
Zara Mohammed, Secretary-General of the MCB, has said:
“The bill, as it currently stands, erodes our civil liberties and exacerbates pre-existing disparities in policing and the criminal justice system. Minority communities deserve better than being further marginalised and criminalised.”
The MCB calls upon members of the House of Lords to scrutinise this Bill in its entirely, with the robustness it deserves, and work towards ensuring our fundamental civil rights are upheld and our democratic principles are preserved.
Image: Steve Cadman