Controversial policing bill has been delayed after backlash - what you need to know

Friday, 19th March 2021, 10:02 am
Updated Friday, 19th March 2021, 10:02 am
The bill has now been delayed until "later in the year" (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

It has been announced that the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has been delayed “until later in the year” by Labour MP Peter Kyle.

This is everything you need to know.

‘The committee has been pulled’

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Kyle wrote on his website: “Once a bill has a 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 in amendments and vote to change it.

“It’s exhausting but I fought to get appointed and was so happy to get onto it and lead from the front bench. We were told over the weekend that the 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 the government.”

‘Policing is unaccountable, aggressive and violent’

An anonymous member from Sisters Uncut, an action group protesting cuts to domestic violence services, said: “The last week has shown that protest works. That’s why they want to ban it, and that’s why we’re fighting back.

“The coalition that is coming together shows just how many people are angry about the brutal reality of policing in this country, and who are determined to roll back this dangerous extension of state power.

“Saturday night has shown us that police are drunk on power, and should not be rewarded with more.

“Policing by consent is a story this country likes to tell about itself. The reality is that policing is unaccountable, aggressive and violent. Targets of police repression - working class people, racial minorities, sex workers and many others - have had enough.”

Sisters Uncut held five consecutive days of organised protest against the bill which was sparked by the actions of police during a Sarah Everard vigil on Clapham Common.

What is the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill?

Under current laws, police are only able to place restrictions on protests if there is a threat of “serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to life in the community”.

However, under the new policing bill, police chiefs would be able to set noise limits and impose a start and finish time on protests - these rules would also be applicable to a protest of a single person.

Those who fail to act in accordance with police rules could be issued a £2,500 fine, and police will be able to issue punishments to those who “ought” to have known about restrictions, rather than needing to prove that protesters knew.

The bill would also introduce the crime of “intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance” with the intention of preventing protest tactics of occupying public spaces.

Following the summer Black Lives Matter protests which saw protesters topple the statue of slave owner Edward Colson, the new maximum punishment for damage to memorials would be increased to a ten year prison sentence.