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Saturday 10 April 2021

Chair of BARAC UK co-signs open letter on the Police and Crime Bill, initiated by Friends of the Earth


Artwork by Zita Holbourne; Poet~Artist~Activist

Reproduced from Friends of the Earth website Read original here

Read the open letter calling for the Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Justice to urge the government to reconsider the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

 Published:  15 Mar 2021    |     8 minute read

Download a copy of this letter here.

Dear Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Justice,

We write to share our profound concern and alarm over the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill published last week. Not only does this Bill contain numerous threats to the right to peaceful protest and access to the countryside, criminalise Gypsy and Traveller communities’ way of life, as well as a whole host of expansive policing powers, but it is being rushed through parliament during a pandemic and before civil society and the public have been able to fully understand its profound implications.

Contained within this 307-page bill are plans to:

  • Introduce draconian new police powers to decide where, when and how citizens are allowed to protest and have their voices heard by those in power;
  • Increase penalties for those breaching police conditions on protests and the ease with which they can be found to have done so;
  • Create a new trespass offence that criminalises the way of life of nomadic Gypsy and Traveller communities, while the government manifestly fails to provide adequate sites and permitted stopping places, and has implications for the public’s right to protest, access to the countryside and people experiencing homelessness.

This is a huge bill, both in length and in potential consequences - for young people calling for social change facing greater criminalisation by the state, for Gypsy and Traveller communities facing threats to their way of life, and for anyone who values freedom of expression and the right to make yourself heard against the powerful.

This in itself is enough to cause alarm, but the government is also trying to rush this Bill through parliament, with less than a week between publication and second reading. This is deeply inadequate and provides no time for MPs and their staff, let alone the communities it stands to affect so profoundly, to understand what the consequences of this wide-ranging Bill may be.

For a country that so often prides itself on civil liberties, this Bill represents an attack on some of the most fundamental rights of citizens, in particular those from marginalised communities, and is being driven through at a time and in a way where those who will be subject to its provisions are least able to respond.

We urge the government to fundamentally rethink its approach.

Yours sincerely,

Gracie Bradley, Interim Director, Liberty

Hugh Knowles & Miriam Turner, Co-Executive Directors, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Sarah Mann, Director, Friends, Families and Travellers

Guy Shrubsole & Nick Hayes, Co-Founders, Right to Roam Campaign

Len McCluskey, General Secretary, Unite the Union

Fiona Colley, Director of Social Change, Homeless Link

Kate Ashbrook, General Secretary, Open Spaces Society

Tom Platt, Director of Advocacy & Engagement, The Ramblers

Louise Hazan & Harpreet K Paul, Co-Founders, Tipping Point

Andrew Simms, Co-Director, New Weather Institute

Anna Vickerstaff, UK Lead,

Kevin Blowe, Campaigns Coordinator, Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol)

Dave Turnbull, Head of Access, Conservation & Environmental Sustainability, British Mountaineering Council

Roger Geffen, Policy Director, Cycling UK

Kristiana Wrixon, Head of Policy, Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations

Stephanie Draper, Chief Executive, Bond

Minnie Rahman, Campaigns and Communications Director, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

Ellie Mae O’Hagan, Director, CLASS

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary, Trades Union Congress (TUC)

Rebecca Baron, Head of Activism, Ben & Jerry’s Europe

Siân Summers-Rees, Chief Officer, City of Sanctuary

Colin Hines, Convenor, Green New Deal group

Leo Murray, Co-Director, Possible

Tom Brake, Director, Unlock Democracy

Professor Natalie Fenton, Chair, Media Reform Coalition

Yvonne MacNamara, CEO, The Traveller Movement

Rosie Lewis, Deputy Director & VAWG Services Manager, The Angelou Centre

Maari Nastari, Interim CEO, The Outside Project

Maurice Mcleod, Chief Executive, Race on the Agenda

John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace UK

Nick Dearden, Director, Global Justice Now

Neal Lawson, Executive Director, Compass

Rowan Mataram, mPOWER Project Manager, Platform

Silkie Carlio, Director, Big Brother Watch

Zita Holbourne, National Chair, BARAC UK

Alison Tickell, Director, Julie’s Bicycle

Kerry Moscogiuri, Director of Campaigns and Communications, Amnesty International UK

Kate Hudson, General Secretary, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)

Asad Rehman, Executive Director, War on Want

Dr Halima Begum, Chief Executive, Runnymede Trust

Brian Gormally, Director, Committee on the Administration of Justice

Kate Clow, Chair of the Board, Culture Routes Society

Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain

Jess Turtle, Co-Founder, Museum of Homelessness

Daniel Hale, Campaign Director, Purpose Europe

Siana Bangura, Founder & Producer, Courageous Films

Lynn Jamieson, Chair, Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Amanda Sebestyen, Founder, Asylum Education & Legal Fund

Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy, Cafod

Aderonke Apata, Founder and Chairperson, African Rainbow Family

Suzanne Jeffrey, Chair, Campaign against Climate Change

Symon Hill, Campaigns Manager, Peace Pledge Union

Guppi Bola & Nonhlanhla Makuyana, Co-Founders, Decolonising Economics

Andrew Scattergood & Gaya Sriskanthan, Co-Chairs, Momentum

Deniz Uğur, Deputy Director, End Violence Against Women Coalition

David Mackenzie, Nukewatch UK

Revd Dr Darrell D Hannah, Chair, Operation Noah

Frances Howe, Co-Director, Biofuelwatch

Leni Morris, CEO, Galop

Hannah Martin & Fatima Ibrahim, Co Directors, Green New Deal UK

Beccy Speight, CEO, RSPB

Vicky Blake, UK President, University and College Union (UCU)

Sarah Hirom, Trustee, One World Week

Andrew Feinstein, Executive Director, Shadow World Investigations

Steve Mason, Frack Free United

Maddy Hodgson, Fuel Poverty Action

Gina Langton, CEO, 80,000 Voices

Jolyon Maugham, Founder & Director, Good Law Project

Helen Tandy, Director, Eco Communities

Michael Chandler, CEO, Union Chapel Project

Tyler Hatwell, Founder & Director, Traveller Pride

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