Sheffielders urged to submit evidence to policing bill inquiry

Sheffield residents were urged to submit evidence to an inquiry into the government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill amid concerns of human rights breaches.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 3:55 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 4:38 pm

The controversial legislation sparked a number of Kill the Bill protests in Sheffield as people fought back against reforms such as imposing restrictions on protests and granting new powers to tackle “unauthorised encampments”.

Olivia Blake, MP for Sheffield Hallam, voted against the bill in Parliament during its second reading and is encouraging people to feed into the public inquiry launched by the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

She said: “[It] is a dangerous piece of legislation, which if left un-amended will have huge implications on our democracy and erode a number of our human rights. Not only will it curtail our right to peaceful protest, a cornerstone of democracy, but it will further criminalise the already discriminated against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community.

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Olivia Blake MP.

“It is vital that we unite as a city against this bill and use every possible channel to oppose and amend the dangerous parts of the legislation. That is why I am encouraging everyone in Sheffield who shares my concerns to take five or 10 minutes before Friday to submit evidence to the public inquiry.”

People have until Friday 14 May to submit evidence through an online portal, the link to which can be found here: https://committees.parliament.uk/call-for-evidence/423/legislative-scrutiny-police-crime-sentencing-and-courts-bill/

Ms Blake shared guidance and a draft template to help people submitting evidence. This can be found here: https://www.oliviablake.org.uk/2021/05/11/have-your-say-on-the-police-crime-sentencing-and-courts-bill/

The committee said it was concerned that a number of the bill’s proposals interfere with rights guaranteed through the Human Rights Act 1998 and articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

These include Article 5 (the right to liberty), Article 7 (no punishment without law), Article 8 (the right to respect for private and family life, the home and correspondence), Article 10 (the right to free expression), Article 11 (the right to free assembly and Article 14 (the right to not be discriminated against in the application of other rights).

As well as these, it was concerned sentencing measures related to children do not comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

A spokesperson for Sheffield Against the Policing Bill said: “The last weeks and months have seen thousands of people in Sheffield and across the country come together in opposition to this bill, which represents a direct attack on our fundamental freedoms of speech, assembly, and the right to protest.

“This sweeping extension of police powers will disproportionately harm groups already on the receiving end of state violence and repression: young black men who already face targeted harassment under stop-and-search powers; Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities whose way of life will be further criminalised; activists and trade unionists whose protests will be silenced.

“While [we urge] people to respond to this inquiry, we believe that this legislation will only be defeated by people coming together in numbers to stand up for our right to protest, and sending a clear message to the Government that we will not let this bill pass.”