A former Lord Chancellor has criticized the government’s Police, Crime, Punishment and Courts Bill (PCSC) as “not proportionate”, claiming that the law is a “scatter gun that is not sufficient for criminal justice”. .
Labour’s shadow attorney general, Lord Faulkner of Thornton, issued a warning during the second reading of the bill in the House of Lords on Tuesday afternoon, as many peers raised concerns it would undermine the right to protest.
The bill introduces new powers for police forces to restrict protests in England and Wales, and would allow officers to impose time limits on demonstrations and maximum noise levels.
Under the proposed new laws, police can impose conditions deemed too noisy and cause “intimidation and harassment” or “serious discomfort” to the public on nonviolent protests. Violators of the conditions may face fines or imprisonment.
Lord Faulkner, who served as Lord Chancellor in Tony Blair’s cabinet, told Lords that the criminal justice system needed reform, but “a Christmas tree bill of this size is not the way to deal with it”.
The Labor frontbencher also criticized the controversial proposed restrictions on the protest, highlighting opposition to the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) measures.
“Giving the executive the power to ban demonstrations because they make excessive noise is not proportionate. You would expect the demonstrations to make noise,” he said.
His concerns were echoed by Baroness Jones of Moulsecombe, a Green Party colleague, who claimed the bill was “clearly not going to help the police”.
“If you can’t have the police chiefs, the UN special envoys and the JCHR on your side, there is something wrong with the bill,” she told the House of Lords.
“This bill only makes it more difficult for oppressed groups in our society to raise their voices and it undermines democracy by curtailing freedom of expression. It is a threat to the basic purpose of the protest to make people listen. “
Regarding the bill’s focus on noise levels in demonstrations, Baroness Jones suggested that the wording of the law was “too vague” and left too open for interpretation by officials at the scene of a protest.
Several clauses in the law also target the Gypsy, Roma and Traveler communities, creating a new criminal offense of “living on land without consent in a vehicle”, and broadening police powers to seize caravans and other property.
Commenting on this aspect of the Bill, Lord Faulkner said: “It is an attack on the Roma or Gypsy lifestyle and is not necessary.
“This is a bill that is just a scatter gun that will not suffice for criminal justice.”
The law, which was voted through parliament by lawmakers in March, was criticized by campaigners and led to widespread ‘Kill the Bill’ protests earlier this year. It was produced partly in response to disruptive action by environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion (XR).
Baron Jonathan Oates, a Liberal Democrat colleague and former chief of staff to Nick Clegg, told Lord’s on Tuesday that the bill will not stop environmental protests because the government has failed to address the issues being raised by protesters.
“The solution is to address the issues and try to understand the issues behind the anger and protest, not forcing it to go further underground,” he said.
“These forces will not remove divisiveness from society, they will do the opposite. They will not quell environmental protests… Acting with the urgency of the existential threat of climate change is the only way to do this.”
The debate came as the Home Office published documents on Monday acknowledging that different groups would be disproportionately affected by the bill’s measures.
The Home Office acknowledged that the proposed Serious Violence Reduction Order (SVRO), which would allow police to stop and find people based on their past abusive history without the “reasonable grounds” currently required, disproportionately affected black people. Will do
But its Equity Impact Assessment states: “Any indirect difference on treatment by race could potentially be positively and fairly as a proportionate means of achieving our legitimate objective of reducing serious violence and preventing crime.” I presume to be reasonable.”
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /