Police & Crime Bill shelved – All oppositions ought now to unite.

Victory for freedom and democracy as the abhorrent Police & Crime Bill is finally delayed in Parliament by the government.

In a Facebook post he published on Tuesday night, Peter Kyle, Labour MP for Hove and Portslade and Shadow Justice Minister, confirmed that the Government’s Police & Crime Bill is not going to progress to the committee stage next week. Instead, he said, it has now been postponed until “later in the year” due to the uproar against the Bill in the past few days.

The MP explains:

“This bill? It’s 300 pages long, was published last week and introduced to parliament this week. Predictably, it’s a mess and has huge weaknesses.

“A bill like this should have at its starting point the fundamental question ‘what trends and patterns are there in crime today that are different to a decade ago?’. In other words, it should get our system of justice up to date and focused on the future.

“The impact of gendered harassment, violence and rape against women isn’t even mentioned once, let alone measures for prevention and cultural change that we so desperately need. Instead, this bill is jammed with cultural provocation that’s designed to thrill some people and appal others. So we have a ten-year mandatory sentence for vandalising statues. We have anti-protest rules that would mean that a single person acting peacefully could be declared an illegal protestor and arrested. And we have powers to apprehend the gipsy traveller community that the police have said they don’t want or need.

“Once a bill has second reading, which happened yesterday and today, it goes into committee where a small group of MPs go through the bill line-by-line and can put amendments and vote to change it. It’s exhausting but I fought to get appointed as was so happy to get onto it and lead from the front bench.

“We were told over the weekend that committee would start next week, which is very fast, because the Tories wanted to keep their cultural provocations going as much as possible as we approach the elections in May. But what happened today? They pulled the bill committee!

“When they saw the revulsion from vast swathes of the country at this unfit bill, suddenly we get a message saying ‘the bill committee won’t start until later in the year’. No doubt when it reappears it will look very different than it does today, and for that we have people up and down the country to thank who contacted their MPs, who made their voices heard, and also a united opposition that pulled apart the shallow and mean spirited arguments put forward by government.

“With the terrible death of Sarah Everard, we have a national conversation underway about how we make women and girls feel safe and protected in society and in law. We cannot let this pass without action.”

Earlier, Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy gave an impassioned speech in the House of Commons on why Labour had decided to vote against the Conservatives’ Bill on Tuesday evening. “By giving the police the discretion to use anti-protest powers some of the time, the government takes away our freedom all of the time,” he told Parliament.

If the Conservatives have given up on the Police & Crime Bill for the moment, there is no doubt that they will, one day, return with a similar text to frame every type of protest and opposition as a security threat.

Only the unity of hearts and minds of all oppositions and minorities made them retreat for now. Only that very same unity of hearts and minds can kill that appalling bill when it returns to Parliament.

United Tory MPs voted to end all protests and all oppositions. All oppositions ought now to prepare and unite to protest the only way the Conservatives understand and fear: in launching together the mother of all campaigns for the next general election… and win it to end a decade of catastrophic Tory rule in Britain. ■

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“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Photo cover: Flickr/Number 10 - Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.