Church leaders have joined representatives of hundreds of civil society organisations to express concern about government proposals to restrict protest and increase police powers.
As consideration of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill begins in the House of Lords, they have written to the Home Secretary and Lord Chancellor, urging a fundamental rethink of approach.
The letter voices concern about several aspects of the wide-ranging Bill: its impact on the right to protest, the threat it poses to Traveller communities, and fears that increased policing powers have the potential to entrench racial injustices in the justice system. It also highlights the very limited amount of parliamentary scrutiny that the proposals have so far received.
Signatories include the President of the Methodist Conference, the General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, and a Moderator of the United Reformed Church’s General Assembly, alongside representatives of Liberty, Friends of the Earth, the Quakers, Christian Aid, Tearfund, and 350 other organisations.
Peaceful protests play an important function in a democracy. This legislation would create confusion and make protest more difficult to organise and difficult to police.
Proposals to create a new criminal offence of trespass would have a particular impact on Gypsy and Traveller communities, as well as criminalising those who are homeless or wild camping.