Nadia Whittome MP email@example.com
(Case Ref: NW4149)
Dear Alan Lodge,
Thank you for this information about the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill. As I am sure you will appreciate, I have received a vast amount of correspondence on this issue, so I wanted to inform you of my opinions and the actions I am taking on behalf of my constituents on this matter.
The tragedy of Sarah Everard’s disappearance and murder has rightly sparked conversations about policing and gender based violence and my thoughts and heartfelt condolences go out to her friends and family. Women have a right to be safe from violence, to walk home at night and not have their lives cut short.
The Government has used this tragedy as a justification for rushing through The Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill under the guise of protecting women. The Bill does not protect women, in fact there is more protection afforded to statues in this Bill than to living women. It does however represent the next step on our descent into authoritarianism. Born out of the Home Secretary’s fury at the Black Lives Matter movement and Extinction Rebellion, the Bill constitutes the biggest assault on our right to protest in recent history and moves to criminalise Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.
The police reaction to the vigils held in Sarah’s honour only further highlight the danger that this bill poses. I spoke in the House of Commons Chamber to highlight my objection to the Bill and its problematic nature. This Bill represents an expansion in police powers that should not be seen in any modern democracy. Were this legislation being debated in another country, I have no doubt that MPs from across Parliament would be condemning that country as an authoritarian regime. The right to protest is a fundamental human right and one of the only ways to challenge establishment power. Demonstrations are by their nature noisy, the concept of ‘serious annoyance’ is subjective and I am extremely concerned that this Bill aims to shut down legitimate forms of protest.
The Bill also poses a huge threat to the nomadic existence and traditions of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. Changing trespass from a civil offence to a criminal one as this Bill proposes, would give police the power to arrest, imprison, fine and seize vehicles. The Government says that the proposals only intend to tackle those living on roadside camps causing anti-social behaviour, however I am concerned at how this will be interpreted and the impact this will have on travelling communities. Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities have already been failed by the Government due to the lack of sufficient stopping sites and this absence leaves them with nowhere that they are permitted to stop. Ingrained racism and prejudice against Gypsies, Roma and Travellers already causes them significant difficulties and hardship without their very existence being criminalised, and this will no doubt impact enforcement of the powers in the Bill.
For these reasons, the Bill must be actively opposed. I and my Labour colleagues voted against the Bill when it last came to the House of Commons, but the fight against this Bill continues. I supported my colleague Bell Ribeiro-Addy’s reasoned amendment to have the Bill thrown out of the House of Commons and I have been vocal in my opposition of this bill and the threat to our human rights that it represents, I have attended and spoken at the protests outside of parliament and I will continue to campaign on this issue until the Bill is no more.
Please be assured that I will continue to fight against this Bill and any attempts to erode our civil liberties both in parliament and beyond.