I think it’s important to recognise that the Bill which is being debated in no way relates to the unfortunate incidents we saw in Clapham last weekend. That was about alleged infringements of the Coronavirus restrictions whereas this Bill is about issues more general.
I have led a number of marches and protests myself so I would not support anything which in any way prevented those from happening. What this legislation is mainly about in that respect is extending the rules which can currently be applied to marches to static protests.
There is much more in the Bill, though, as well, such as:
- protecting the police and other emergency workers and enhancing the wellbeing of police officers and staff
- protecting the public by giving the police the tools needed to tackle crime and disorder, and by addressing the root causes of serious violent crime using multi-agency approaches to prevention
- upholding the right to peaceful protest while providing the police with the necessary powers to stop disruptive protests from disproportionately infringing on the rights and freedoms of others
- strengthening police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments
- ensuring serious criminals spend longer in custody, including ending the automatic halfway release point from prison for an additional cohort of serious sexual and violent offenders and making a Whole Life Order the starting point for the premeditated murder of a child
- making community sentences more effective so that they offer an appropriate level of punishment and address the underlying drivers of offending, including: piloting a problem-solving court approach for certain community and suspended sentence orders and extending the use of Electronic Monitoring
- strengthening alternatives to custody for children who have offended which promote rehabilitation, and raise the threshold for custodial remand, while at the same time ensuring that children who commit serious offences and pose a risk to the public receive sentences that reflect the seriousness of their offending
- empowering future providers of Secure Schools, which represent our vision for the future of youth custody - schools with security, rather than prisons with education: with education, healthcare and purposeful activity at their heart
- modernising our courts and tribunals by updating existing court processes to provide better services for all court users and underpin open justice
The Debates taking place this week are about the Second Reading of the Bill. The more detailed analysis will come at later stages, ie Committee and Report stages, where amendments can be tabled as necessary. So while it is my intention to support the Bill at Second Reading, I will continue to hold discussions with Ministers and to listen to constituents and return to the Bill as and when necessary at those later stages.