UK: Drop the dangerous Policing Bill

Article by Fair Trials

Fair Trials is calling for the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (Policing Bill) to be dropped as it enters Committee Stage.

Fair Trials Legal Director, Bruno Min said:

“The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is one of the most dangerous pieces of criminal justice legislation in years.”

“The Bill contains a raft of measures that would perpetuate discrimination and undermine fundamental human rights in the UK.”

“The Bill will reinforce systemic racism in our criminal justice system by extending stop and search powers, expanding criminalisation through serious violence reduction orders, requiring essential service providers to share information with the police, and creating new offences targeted at Travellers. Other measures, such as the expansion of remote hearings, could exacerbate injustice and inequality in criminal trials.”

“We urge Parliament to drop this Bill.”

The Bill:

The dangerous proposals in the Policing Bill include:

  • Extending police stop and search powers, ignoring overwhelmingly damning evidence about its discriminatory impact and growing concerns about systemic racism in the police, as well as expanding criminalisation via serious violence reduction orders.
  • Creating new offences regarding unauthorised encampments that are blatantly anti-Traveller, and they will inevitably draw even more Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people unjustly into the criminal justice system.
  • Imposing a legal duty on local authorities, schools and the NHS to share data with the police. This will result in people unable or unwilling to access essential services and could also lead to the increased use of automated profiling systems and data analytics, which have repeatedly resulted in discriminatory and unfair outcomes when used by police and local authorities.
  • Expanding the use of remote hearings in criminal cases. During the pandemic video hearings have become more commonplace, but long-term normalisation of this practice is worrying given studies showing that they are an inadequate substitute for in-person hearings, with vulnerable suspects especially at risk of unfair trials.
  • Lengthening the maximum period of time that people can be held on police bail, which will remove incentives for police to investigate crimes expeditiously.

Read Fair Trials’ full analysis of the Bill.