Thank you for contacting me about the progress of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and protecting the right to protest.
This Government was elected on a clear manifesto commitment to fight crime, build safe communities and to reform our justice system, and I continue to believe that the measures contained within this Bill will help us achieve that. This Bill will ensure that punishments better fit the severity of the crime, will deliver greater support for victims and will help break the cycle of re-offending. By voting against this Bill, those that oppose it are voting against vital measures to protect the public. These include:
- tougher sentences for child murderers;
- tougher sentences for sex offenders;
- dozens of measures to crack down on knife and violent crime;
- new measures to protect our emergency workers from assault, including through Harper’s Law;
- expansion of ‘positions of trust’ to protect teenagers from abuse;
- measures to protect children from sexual abuse;
- protecting victims of Domestic Abuse through ‘Kay’s Law’;
- and a number of other important provisions to overhaul our justice system.
I understand your concerns about the proposed powers in relation to public protests. The Government has been clear that freedom of assembly and expression are vital and that the right of an individual to express their opinion and protest remains a cornerstone of our democratic society. The majority of protests in England and Wales are peaceful and will be entirely unaffected by the changes proposed in this Bill.
In short, the measures in the PCSC Bill will strike a balance between the rights of protestors and those of individuals to go about their daily business. A few demonstrations of recent years have caused, and been intentionally designed to cause, major and unjustifiable disruption to other citizens. The PCSC Bill aims to enhance the police’s ability to manage protests, to allow essential services to continue unabated and to ensure that the day-to-day lives of the overwhelming majority are not badly disrupted by a selfish minority.
You can read more about the PCSC Bill and its impact on public protest in the Government’s key factsheet here.
Lastly, I note your views about the recent defeat of various Government Amendments to the PCSC Bill in the Lords. It is my understanding that Ministers have confirmed that they will look at reintroducing these measures in the House of Commons in the near future and I look forward to studying these measures carefully and voting on them if and when they come before the House.
Thank you again for taking the time to write to me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking