Policing bill passes second reading in House of Commons


Yesterday evening, the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons with a majority of 96 votes (359-263).

It will now go to the committee and report stage where MPs will pick at its most controversial elements and attempt to make amendments to it. It will return to the Commons for a third reading, after which it will be sent to the House of Lords. 

Prior to the vote, MPs debated the content of the bill on what was the second consecutive day of debate. Labour had already announced on Sunday it would be opposing the bill.

Numerous MPs including Labour's Maria Eagle, Opposition Whip James Murray and the Green Party's Caroline Lucas focused on the impact the bill will have on the ability of the public to protest.

She urged for members who 'believe in free speech and democracy' to reject the bill. 

By increasing the maximum penalty for exercising the right to protest, the Government are creating new restrictions on where they can take place, eliminating important aspects of human rights law that require the state to facilitate protests. She [the Home Secretary] wants to deter any dissent yet further.

~ Carolina Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton, Pavillion

The bill would give the police the power to set start and finish times for static protests as well as impose 'maximum noise levels'. It also seeks to deter against protests occurring around parliament by ensuring vehicle entrances around the Estate remain unobstructed.

Conservative MP Ben Everitt, argued that opposition MPs had sought to equate the policing of the Sarah Everead vigil to measures in the bill, which aim to protect the public from disruptive protests. He stated that those measures make up only a minor part of the bill and branded the opposition's argument on the matter 'knee-jerk' and 'populist'. 

He added that the Bill would support efforts to make communities safer.

The Bill will ensure that those who commit the most heinous of crimes will spend the rest of their lives behind bars. It will ensure that the police will have the powers and support that they need to make our communities safer.

~ Ben Everitt, Conservative MP for Milton Keynes 

As we explained yesterday, the contents of the bill are far-reaching, with implications on the right to protest, the protection of memorials, penalties for assaulting emergency staff, and stop and search. 

The maximum punishment for assaulting emergency staff would be doubled from 12 months to 2 years, while the legislation could also make damage to memorials punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.

Maximum life sentences will also be introduced for drivers who cause death while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The fact that the law will restrict civil liberties, even after the pandemic has been a major source of concern among human rights groups, including liberty.

Mayowa Ayodele


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