I am writing tonight as your constituent to urge to you vote against the Police, Crime and Sentencing Courts Bill on Monday 15th March. I’m sure that you too are shocked by the images and videos from the Clapham Common vigil last night. Women who attended to pay tribute to a murdered woman and protest against gendered violence were assaulted by Met Police officers.
The police refused to cooperate with the event organisers prior to the vigil, on spurious grounds. Instead of collaborating to ensure that the vigil could be held as a Covid-safe event, they instead chose to wait until after dark to manhandle and assault attendees. This display of police brutality is unacceptable. It is especially egregious given the nature of the event, and that Sarah Everard was allegedly murdered by an off-duty Met Police officer.
The Police, Crime and Sentencing Courts Bill would grant police with additional powers to shut down any protest deemed “annoying”, or a “public nuisance”. It is only too easy to see how this could be open to bad faith interpretation and abuse, especially given the Met’s actions last night, and during the Black Lives Matter protests last year. There is also a measure which would increase the maximum penalty for criminal damage to a memorial from 3 months to 10 years. Such moves are incredibly alarming, disproportionate, and wholly unacceptable in a liberal democracy – my fear here is that this is an authoritarian shift, not in line with the heart of the country I know and love.
Peaceful protest is a cornerstone of living in a democratic country, and I am gravely concerned that this government is taking authoritarian measures to quash dissent or criticism. The passing of this bill would be an abject failure on the part of the government to uphold its historic duties and values to aid the struggles of Britain’s people. I am writing to ask you to safeguard freedom of political expression, free from the threat of state violence, or else go against the fundamental values of liberal democracy.
I would therefore strongly urge you to vote against the Police, Crime and Sentencing Courts Bill next week. I look forward to your response.
Letter to your MP – Policing Bill