This week in parliament, along with the full abolition of Covid-19 restrictions, the hugely controversial policing, crime and sentencing bill was passed with a margin of 365-265 votes, meaning every single Tory MP voted for it. It involves tougher legislation, such as Judges’ ability to give life sentences with no hope of getting released, increasing the maximum sentence of defacing a statue from 3 months to 10 years (yes just a small increase), and most controversially, ability for the police to shut down a protest if it causes public nuisance or annoyance, down from serious public disorder. It fully extends to England and Wales and partially to Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Why is it so controversial? Well, many in left leaning and even some soft right areas have protested that they believe the bill is giving the police the ability to prohibit fundamental freedoms to protest the British Public deserves. It means the UK joins a list of countries they may not want to be grouped into, including Russia, North Korea, and China, as countries without the right to freely protest. However, Home Secretary Priti Patel has argued that to truly protest for a good cause, it should be peaceful, which is still allowed under this new law, however some of her own MPs, most notably ex-PM Theresa May, have argued that without this right to protest, the UK isn’t a true democracy.
On the other laws, and after the tragic events that happened to Sarah Everard, the Home Secretary is also pushing to crack down on knife crime, by introducing laws to help prevent those committing said crimes, through earlier intervention. This continues Patel’s crackdown on protests after XR (extinction rebellion), have done as what she describes as exploiting gaps in the 1986 public order act that have led to disproportionate amounts of disruption.