I have written to Alok Sharma asking him to think again on his government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill. I am aware that as a slavishly loyal member of the Conservative government he is unlikely to agree with me, but I do think it is worth ensuring he is aware of the deep level of concern that his constituents feel about this bill. Were I the MP for Reading West now I would vote against the bill.
My letter below:
Dear Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP
Throw out the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
In the words of civil liberty campaigners, this bill is a ‘staggering assault’ on the right to protest. It also fails to address the fact that our police and criminal justice system oppresses marginalised groups including women, people of colour and the working class.
I am writing to ask you to help throw out this bill, by voting for Bell Ribeiro-Addy’s reasoned amendment relating to the second reading of it (as well as voting for it to be thrown out at every other opportunity, of course). Please tell me – will you vote for this?
This amendment makes clear that the bill should be thrown out because of its attack on protest and several marginalised groups, and because it relates to several methods of systematic oppression.
I have included the text of the amendment here, for reference:
That this House declines to give a Second Reading to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill because it contains a number of measures that, taken together, constitute a significant reduction in established civil liberties, because the Bill enables restrictions placed on freedom of assembly and association in contravention to Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights which, under the Human Rights Act 1998, protects the right to take part in marches, protests and demonstrations, because the Bill fails to address the racial bias and discrimination that persists within policing and the over-representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities in the prison population and deaths in custody, because the Bill contains new measures such as the new offence of residing on land without consent in or with a vehicle that will disproportionately impact Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, because the Bill does not include any specific measures to prevent male violence against women and girls nor to address the fact that a large proportion of women in prisons are survivors of domestic abuse and other types of gendered violence, because the Bill therefore risks exacerbating the racial and gendered disparities in the criminal justice system by increasing police powers and sentencing whilst reducing accountability.
The amendment is already supported by MPs from across Parliament, including from the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, and the Green Party, as well as of course the Labour Party. I would urge you to add your support.