Here's why the policing bill is so controversial 1 year ago

Here's why the policing bill is so controversial

Following Saturday's chaotic scenes on Clapham Common, the government are coming under increasing pressure to halt the passage of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

It is believed the bill is, in part, a response to disruptive Extinction Rebellion protests last year - which Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said sought to “bring policing to its knees and the city to a halt.”


The government claim it will “strengthen police powers to tackle non-violent protests that have a significant or disruptive effect on the public or on access to parliament.”

The legislation will have a serious affect on a variety of issues, including the right to peacefully protest - both as a group, and as an individual.

It would allow the police to set arbitrary noise limits on protest, and impose a start and finish time.


The legislation also makes it illegal to “intentionally or recklessly” cause “a public nuisance”, or something which causes “serious annoyance, serious inconvenience, or serious loss of anonymity”.

The bill gives the police power to remove “unauthorised encampments”, which does not only affect protestors - but also the Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller community. 

This will all be judged at the discretion of the police, and penalties for failure to comply include receiving a criminal record, a fine of up to £2,500, and jail sentences of up to 10 years.

Labour have U-turned from their initial decision to abstain - and will now oppose the bill on concerns about the bill curtailing civil liberties. 


Labour have described the bill as including “poorly though-out measures to impose disproportionate controls on free expression.”

David Lammy, shadow justice secretary, said: “The Conservatives have brought forward a Bill that is seeking to divide the country. 

“It is a mess, which could lead to harsher penalties for damaging a statue than for attacking a woman.

“Labour will be voting against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill on this basis.”


The bill has also drawn outrage from outside party politics, too.

Liberty, the human rights organisation, said: “Parts of the bill will facilitate discrimination and undermine protest, which is the lifeblood of a healthy democracy.”

They added: “[the bill risks] stifling dissent and making it harder for us to hold the powerful to account.”

And, according to the Guardian, 150 human rights charities, unions, and faith communities have signed an open letter opposing the bill on the basis of the “fundamental rights of citizens”. 

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will be debated in parliament today and tomorrow.