briefing from: JUSTICE
published: 29 June 2021
This month, MPs continue to debate the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which is an extensive, lengthy, and highly concerning piece of legislation that would risk violating the UK’s human rights obligations and the rule of law.
While JUSTICE welcomes some aspects of the Bill which align with our own work, such as the expansion of the use of video technology in hearings and the strengthening of measures that seek to reduce the number of children remanded in custody, the overall package remains deeply problematic.
For example, the Bill would lead to the further criminalisation of Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities through greater restrictions on ‘unauthorised encampments’, expand stop and search powers through ‘Serious Violence Reduction Orders’, which would treat those associated with knife crime who have served their sentence as perpetual criminals by allowing the police to search them at any time without the need for suspicion.
It will increase restrictions on rights to freedom of expression and assembly by allowing the police to place conditions on gatherings, such as protests, assemblies, or processions, on the basis of ‘noise’ or ‘obstruction’, and finally unduly lengthen many prisoners’ sentences, which would damage their chance at rehabilitation and place further strain on our already creaking criminal justice system.
JUSTICE is deeply concerned by several measures in the Bill, not least the disproportionate impact it could have on Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic communities, its proposals to increase tariffs for a number of offences, the restrictions on the right to protest, the creation of SVROs, and the discriminatory effect that the new restrictions on unauthorised encampments could have on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. JUSTICE has expressed its concerns with the Bill alongside numerous other NGOS in two open letters. We intend to publish a briefing on the Bill in due course.
JUSTICE strongly opposes these measures and continues to call on Parliament to urgently remove them.