Part 3 of the Bill gives police forces more power to place restrictions on protests and public assembly
BASW UK has written to the Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper MP, to raise serious concerns over Part 3 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and urge the Labour Party to stand against it in Parliament.
Part 3 of the Bill gives police forces more power to place restrictions on protests and public assembly. These plans are a direct threat to the right to protest and have been met with strong opposition from the public and campaigning organisations.
Protests are a key function of our open and free democracy, and will ultimately give cause to the police to shut down any protest in the name of it being ‘disruptive’ to the public.
The values and principles of our profession mean that we cannot support Part 3 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, and we urge the Labour Party to take a stand against it too.
‘The state is rapidly acquiring huge powers over citizens’
The Social Workers Union (SWU) has also voiced its concerns around Part 3 of the Bill.
John McGowan, General Secretary of SWU, said: “SWU is concerned that the Government’s new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill risks criminalising the right to peaceful protest, and will increase discrimination and undermine democracy.
“Many of the hard-won rights that communities have fought for have come as a direct result of protest – people should be able to stand up for what they believe in and hold the Government and organisations accountable for their actions.
“Under this legislation, protesters can be arrested and charged on grounds so vague that they are almost impossible to refute.
“There is a clear direction of change here: the state is rapidly acquiring huge powers over citizens, and security agencies are being empowered to act as they please under the direction of a dreadful UK Government.”
BASW UK and SWU recently stated their opposition to Part 4 of the Bill, which threatens to criminalise the culture and way of life of Romani and Traveller communities, whilst the UK Government fails to provide adequate sites and permitted stopping places.