Peterborough MP backs controversial new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill despite Labour opposition

The MP for Peterborough has given his backing to the controversial new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 4:53 am
A woman is arrested during Saturday night's vigil for murdered Sarah Everard. Photo Getty Images

Paul Bristow attacked opposition from Labour city councillors to the bill which has received increased attention following the police response to the recent Sarah Everard vigil at Clapham Common.

The legislation being debated by MPs this week would allow police to impose a start and finish time for static protests as well as noise limits, with people ignoring the rules able to be fined up to £2,500.

The proposed law also includes an offence of “intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance,” while anyone damaging a memorial could be imprisoned for up to 10 years.

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The changes follow recent Extinction Rebellion protests, as well as the toppling of a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.

Labour has said it will oppose the legislation, with shadow justice secretary and former pupil at The King’s School David Lammy saying it was “no time to be rushing through poorly thought-out measures to impose disproportionate controls on free expression”.

In addition, Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, said: “This bill is liable to makes the scenes we saw at Clapham Common the new normal - it’s a deeply worrying prospect.”

Labour councillors in East ward in Peterborough have also spoken out after responding to a tweet from Mr Bristow that he was “deeply concerned” by the scenes at the vigil but still supported the new bill.

Cllr Samantha Hemraj tweeted: “I throught I lived in a democracy. Are we heading to a Dictatorship with this bill. This bill is to shut the little people up. So wrong. Shame on this government dont like a protest.”

Cllr Shabina Qayyum tweeted: “I’m “deeply” concerned at the precedent he sets to stifle freedom of speech. & more so, the right to exercise democracy. This is not the path to go down. A peaceful vigil & a violent protest cannot be addressed with equal force.”

But explaining why he supported the bill, Mr Bristow wrote on his Facebook page: “You may hear a lot about protest and new Police Bill over the next two days.

In part, this Bill focusses on protestors whose goal is deliberate chaos or destruction. We’ve all seen that behaviour on our TVs and the defacing of our war memorials.

The Bill is not aimed at the vigil we saw in Clapham, nor protests we have seen in #Peterborough.

But already Labour councillors in Peterborough are attacking my support for the Bill It’s worth remembering what Labour are voting against:

This Bill will:

. make it easier to prosecute travellers who set up illegal camps across #Peterborough

. give new powers to police and deliver stiffer sentences for those guilty of sexual offences - including child sexual offences

. increase sentences for those who attack our emergency workers

. serious criminals will spend longer in prison - ending the automatic halfway release point for serious sexual and violent offenders; making a Whole Life Order for child murderers

. introduce new tough sentences for those that deface our war memorials

. introduce a serious violence duty on authorities to work together to prevent and reduce serious violence (including violence against women)

. extend the scope of offences relating to the abuse of positions of trust legislation to capture additional roles, such as sports coaches

And... for those demonstrations that cause deliberate chaos or destruction - the law will impose a start and finish time and noise limits on these gatherings.

This is why I am proud to support this Bill and hope Labour think again.”