The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is a controversial bill which fails to provide
adequate protections for women and restricts the right to protest. I therefore voted against it when it was brought before the House of Commons for its Third Reading on 5th July.
The right to peaceful protest is fundamental to our democracy. Clauses 54 to 60 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill give police new powers to restrict or prevent protests if they are judged by police to be disruptive or cause ‘annoyance’. I am concerned that these clauses make it more likely that peaceful protests will be prevented. I believe the police already have sufficient existing powers relevant to ensure peaceful protest, including the powers in the Public Order Act 1986.
There is an urgent need to strengthen protections for women and girls. I am disappointed the Conservatives blocked a Labour amendment to introduce a statutory minimum sentence for rape of seven years. Alongside tougher sentences, we need greater investment in the prosecution service to ensure violence against women is not effectively decriminalised.