Statement: Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 

 

March 17th 2021

I have received a number of communications about the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which is having its second reading in the House of Commons  this week. Some of those communications have asked me to “vote against” or “block”  the Bill..  

 

This measure is very wide ranging and embraces, for example, measures to prevent and reduce serious violence, measures to review offensive weapons, homicide, the extraction of information from electronic devices for the purposes of investigating crime, measures relating to child sex offences, criminal damage, measures relating to the control of unlawful campsites, measures and sentences relating to drink driving, minimum custodial sentences for particular offences, the management of sex offenders, youth custody, British Transport Police issues and a number of other measures. 

 

It is correct that the Bill also includes measures to update and clarify the control of public processions and assemblies which I appreciate that some regard as contentious. It would, however, be wildly irresponsible to seek to block an entire Bill when these measures can and will properly be addressed during the Committee Stage and subsequent stages of this important  legislation . 

 

I shall, therefore, most certainly be voting for the second reading of the Bill . I  will then carefully consider further what amendments, if any, may need to be made to ensure that the rights of people to lawfully – and I emphasize “lawfully” – protest are maintained.  

 

In the context of the gathering on Clapham Common on Saturday – which was of course itself unlawful – I think that it might be helpful if we were all to await the outcome of the enquiry that the Home Secretary has ordered before leaping to conclusions. I accept entirely the strength of public feeling in relation to this matter and to the appalling crime that precipitated the event but while some aspects of the policing of this demonstration , undertaken to  enforce Covid 19 regulations in the public interest, give cause for concern I believe that it would be wise to be guided by the official report of the investigation,  rather than upon selective reporting , for a definitive assessment of what actually took place and of what measures may, as a result, need to be taken.