A Cambridge City Council website

Cambridge City Council

Council and democracy

Home > Council and Democracy > Agenda item

Agenda item

Councillor Healy: Motion on Policing Bill

This council notes:

·  The right to peaceful assembly and protest is a fundamental human right and a crucial part of our democratic society. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (hereinafter “PCSC bill”) undermines that right and represents a significant impingement on civil liberties. Additionally, the PCSC bill specifically targets Gypsy and Traveller communities, effectively criminalising their way of life.

 

·  The provisions in part 3, concerning the right to protest and assemble, represent an unprecedented extension of policing powers which would effectively give both police and Government ministers the powers to ban or impose undue restrictions on peaceful protests, which interferes with the right to peaceful assembly, enshrined in international law. Many measures are neither proportionate nor necessary. The Bill also sets out to crackdown on explicitly nonviolent dissent - a form of protest which is clearly protected by the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.? There is a huge risk of abuse of powers under the bill as it gives the Home Secretary unfettered power, to define “serious disruption” without parliamentary approval.

 

·  The current version of the bill would also allow police to restrict static assemblies and vigils, rather than just moving demonstrations. A picket line outside a workplace, a sit-down protest or a solidarity vigil (like so many peaceful vigils held in Parker’s Piece) could all be limited or banned if they are deemed to have an undue “impact” upon people. The whole point of demonstrations is to have an impact. If we think of some of the key moments in civil rights history, where change happened, it was through protests such as the civil rights movement in the US, the suffragette’s movement in the UK or the women’s strike in Dagenham factories which led to the equal pay act for women in the UK.

 

·  The change in criminal threshold significantly lowers the standard to find someone guilty of a serious offence and the provisions are open to such wide-ranging and discretionary interpretation that they would almost certainly give rise to even more arbitrary and discriminatory approaches to how protests are managed. This may disproportionately impact on ethnic minority groups, who already experience disproportionality in the criminal justice system. The PCSC Bill also includes greater police powers to enhance stop and search– a tactic already used disproportionately against people of colour. The structural inequalities in the criminal justice system need to be addressed first, not exacerbated.

 

·  It is a really serious criminal offence which includes fine up to £10,000 and 10 years in prison for causing “serious annoyance” for taking part in a noisy protest. There will be a huge deterrent effect in terms of participating in protests or vigils as a result of the potential to be imprisoned for lengthy periods of time. Amnesty International has warned about the possibility of this leading to prisoners of conscience in this country, as a result of the bill, with people locked up for years for engaging in peaceful protests. The sort of thing we see in dictator regimes in other parts of the world.

 

·  Part 4 of the Bill contains measures specifically targeting Gypsy and Traveller communities, who are some of the most discriminated against and marginalised minority ethnic communities in UK society. Yet the new PCSCB Bill further targets them by criminalising trespass to land. These measures will further exacerbate inequalities and discrimination, pushing these groups into the criminal justice system as Gypsies and Travellers unable to pay a fine (£2500) could be imprisoned (three months).

 

·  No family willingly stops somewhere they are not welcome, with no running water, waste disposal or electricity, and the way to resolve this is not by criminalising GRT families or by introducing anti-encampment landscaping in open spaces.,. The existence of encampments needs to be understood not only in terms of the age-old cultural traditions of Gypsies and Travellers, but in terms of the historic failure of government to properly meet their accommodation needs. The proposals are being put forward despite the existence of a range of other eviction powers for encampments, and despite alternative solutions such as negotiated stopping agreements.

 

·  The new provisions also allow authorities to seize property and caravans, which effectively amounts to seizing their homes and all their worldly possessions. The measure is clearly discriminatory and disproportionate. The consequences of these measures will be devastating for Gypsy and Traveller families – suddenly without a home or possessions and with the lead family member thrown into the criminal justice system. This will also have implications for Gypsy and Traveller families with children in Cambridgeshire, who may be at risk of entering the care system.


This Council resolves to:

 

·  Express strong concerns about the provisions in Part 3 and Part 4 of the PCSCB Bill, which will have a significant impact on the UK Government’s adherence to its international and domestic human rights obligations and which will also affect relations and trust in Cambridge with Gypsy and Traveller communities.

·  Stand in solidarity with Traveller and Gypsy communities in Cambridge and continue to build trust and good relations with them.

·  Write to the Home Secretary to express strong concerns about the provisions in the PCSCB bill which impact on civil liberties including the right to protest and peaceful assembly and in relation to the provisions targeting Gypsy and Traveller communities.

·  Continue to work with neighbouring local authorities in Cambridgeshire to find solutions where it is found that there is a lack of legal sites and stopping places for GRT communities.

·  Identify opportunities to work with the police to find best practice solutions to supporting Gypsy and Traveller communities when no legal site places are available and to enable them to move to safe stopping places.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Healy proposed and Councillor Herbert seconded the following motion:

 

This council notes:

·  The right to peaceful assembly and protest is a fundamental human right and a crucial part of our democratic society. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (hereinafter “PCSC bill”) undermines that right and represents a significant impingement on civil liberties. Additionally, the PCSC bill specifically targets Gypsy and Traveller communities, effectively criminalising their way of life.

·  The provisions in part 3, concerning the right to protest and assemble, represent an unprecedented extension of policing powers which would effectively give both police and Government ministers the powers to ban or impose undue restrictions on peaceful protests, which interferes with the right to peaceful assembly, enshrined in international law. Many measures are neither proportionate nor necessary. The Bill also sets out to crackdown on explicitly nonviolent dissent - a form of protest which is clearly protected by the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.? There is a huge risk of abuse of powers under the bill as it gives the Home Secretary unfettered power, to define “serious disruption” without parliamentary approval.

·  The current version of the bill would also allow police to restrict static assemblies and vigils, rather than just moving demonstrations. A picket line outside a workplace, a sit-down protest or a solidarity vigil (like so many peaceful vigils held in Parker’s Piece) could all be limited or banned if they are deemed to have an undue “impact” upon people. The whole point of demonstrations is to have an impact. If we think of some of the key moments in civil rights history, where change happened, it was through protests such as the civil rights movement in the US, the suffragette’s movement in the UK or the women’s strike in Dagenham factories which led to the equal pay act for women in the UK.

·  The change in criminal threshold significantly lowers the standard to find someone guilty of a serious offence and the provisions are open to such wide-ranging and discretionary interpretation that they would almost certainly give rise to even more arbitrary and discriminatory approaches to how protests are managed. This may disproportionately impact on ethnic minority groups, who already experience disproportionality in the criminal justice system. The PCSC Bill also includes greater police powers to enhance stop and search– a tactic already used disproportionately against people of colour. The structural inequalities in the criminal justice system need to be addressed first, not exacerbated.

·  It is a really serious criminal offence which includes fine up to £10,000 and 10 years in prison for causing “serious annoyance” for taking part in a noisy protest. There will be a huge deterrent effect in terms of participating in protests or vigils as a result of the potential to be imprisoned for lengthy periods of time. Amnesty International has warned about the possibility of this leading to prisoners of conscience in this country, as a result of the bill, with people locked up for years for engaging in peaceful protests. The sort of thing we see in dictator regimes in other parts of the world.

·  Part 4 of the Bill contains measures specifically targeting Gypsy and Traveller communities, who are some of the most discriminated against and marginalised minority ethnic communities in UK society. Yet the new PCSCB Bill further targets them by criminalising trespass to land. These measures will further exacerbate inequalities and discrimination, pushing these groups into the criminal justice system as Gypsies and Travellers unable to pay a fine (£2500) could be imprisoned (three months).

·  No family willingly stops somewhere they are not welcome, with no running water, waste disposal or electricity, and the way to resolve this is not by criminalising GRT families or by introducing anti-encampment landscaping in open spaces.,. The existence of encampments needs to be understood not only in terms of the age-old cultural traditions of Gypsies and Travellers, but in terms of the historic failure of government to properly meet their accommodation needs. The proposals are being put forward despite the existence of a range of other eviction powers for encampments, and despite alternative solutions such as negotiated stopping agreements.

·  The new provisions also allow authorities to seize property and caravans, which effectively amounts to seizing their homes and all their worldly possessions. The measure is clearly discriminatory and disproportionate. The consequences of these measures will be devastating for Gypsy and Traveller families – suddenly without a home or possessions and with the lead family member thrown into the criminal justice system. This will also have implications for Gypsy and Traveller families with children in Cambridgeshire, who may be at risk of entering the care system.


This Council resolves to:

 

·  Express strong concerns about the provisions in Part 3 and Part 4 of the PCSCB Bill, which will have a significant impact on the UK Government’s adherence to its international and domestic human rights obligations and which will also affect relations and trust in Cambridge with Gypsy and Traveller communities.

·  Stand in solidarity with Traveller and Gypsy communities in Cambridge and continue to build trust and good relations with them.

·  Write to the Home Secretary to express strong concerns about the provisions in the PCSCB bill which impact on civil liberties including the right to protest and peaceful assembly and in relation to the provisions targeting Gypsy and Traveller communities.

·  Continue to work with neighbouring local authorities in Cambridgeshire to find solutions where it is found that there is a lack of legal sites and stopping places for GRT communities.

·  Identify opportunities to work with the police to find best practice solutions to supporting Gypsy and Traveller communities when no legal site places are available and to enable them to move to safe stopping places.

 

Councillor Copley proposed and Councillor Bennett seconded the following amendment to motion (deleted text struck through and additional text underlined):

 

This council notes:

?  The right to peaceful assembly and protest is a fundamental human right and a crucial part of our democratic society. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (hereinafter “PCSC bill”) undermines that right and represents a significant impingement on civil liberties. Additionally, the PCSC bill specifically targets Gypsy and Traveller communities, effectively criminalising their way of life.

?  The provisions in part 3, concerning the right to protest and assemble, represent an unprecedented extension of policing powers which would effectively give both police and Government ministers the powers to ban or impose undue restrictions on peaceful protests, which interferes with the right to peaceful assembly, enshrined in international law. Many measures are neither proportionate nor necessary. The Bill also sets out to crackdown on explicitly nonviolent dissent - a form of protest which is clearly protected by the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.? There is a huge risk of abuse of powers under the bill as it gives the Home Secretary unfettered power, to define “serious disruption” without parliamentary approval.

?  The current version of the bill would also allow police to restrict static assemblies and vigils, rather than just moving demonstrations. A picket line outside a workplace, a sit-down protest or a solidarity vigil (like so many peaceful vigils held in Parker’s Piece) could all be limited or banned if they are deemed to have an undue “impact” upon people. The whole point of demonstrations is to have an impact. If we think of some of the key moments in civil rights history, where change happened, it was through protests such as the civil rights movement in the US, the suffragette’s movement in the UK or the women’s strike in Dagenham factories which led to the equal pay act for women in the UK.

?  The change in criminal threshold significantly lowers the standard to find someone guilty of a serious offence and the provisions are open to such wide-ranging and discretionary interpretation that they would almost certainly give rise to even more arbitrary and discriminatory approaches to how protests are managed. This may disproportionately impact on ethnic minority groups, who already experience disproportionality in the criminal justice system. The PCSC Bill also includes greater police powers to enhance stop and search– a tactic already used disproportionately against people of colour. The structural inequalities in the criminal justice system need to be addressed first, not exacerbated.

?  It is a really serious criminal offence which includes fine up to £10,000 and 10 years in prison for causing “serious annoyance” for taking part in a noisy protest. There will be a huge deterrent effect in terms of participating in protests or vigils as a result of the potential to be imprisoned for lengthy periods of time. Amnesty International has warned about the possibility of this leading to prisoners of conscience in this country, as a result of the bill, with people locked up for years for engaging in peaceful protests. The sort of thing we see in dictator regimes in other parts of the world.

?  Part 4 of the Bill contains measures specifically targeting Gypsy and Traveller communities, who are some of the most discriminated against and marginalised minority ethnic communities in UK society. Yet the new PCSCB Bill further targets them by criminalising trespass to land. These measures will further exacerbate inequalities and discrimination, pushing these groups into the criminal justice system as Gypsies and Travellers unable to pay a fine (£2500) could be imprisoned (three months).

?  No family willingly stops somewhere they are not welcome, with no running water, waste disposal or electricity, and the way to resolve this is not by criminalising GRT families or by introducing anti-encampment landscaping in open spaces.,. The existence of encampments needs to be understood not only in terms of the age-old cultural traditions of Gypsies and Travellers, but in terms of the historic failure of government to properly meet their accommodation needs. The proposals are being put forward despite the existence of a range of other eviction powers for encampments, and despite alternative solutions such as negotiated stopping agreements.

?  The new provisions also allow authorities to seize property and caravans, which effectively amounts to seizing their homes and all their worldly possessions. The measure is clearly discriminatory and disproportionate. The consequences of these measures will be devastating for Gypsy and Traveller families – suddenly without a home or possessions and with the lead family member thrown into the criminal justice system. This will also have implications for Gypsy and Traveller families with children in Cambridgeshire, who may be at risk of entering the care system.

This Council resolves to:

?  Express strong concerns about the provisions in Part 3 and Part 4 of the PCSCB Bill, which will have a significant impact on the UK Government’s adherence to its international and domestic human rights obligations and which will also affect relations and trust in Cambridge with Gypsy and Traveller communities.

?  Stand in solidarity with Traveller and Gypsy communities in Cambridge and continue to build trust and good relations with them.

?  Write to the Home Secretary to express strong concerns about the provisions in the PCSCB bill which impact on civil liberties including the right to protest and peaceful assembly and in relation to the provisions targeting Gypsy and Traveller communities.

?  Change the approach to unauthorised encampments, from enforcement, to an approach which prioritises provision of sites and negotiated stopping arrangements.

?  Seek to identify suitable transit sites within the City of Cambridge for Travellers to legally stop at, recognising the immense cultural importance of the City to the Traveller community.

?  Explore with the Cambridge Biomedical Campus (CBC) team potential locations for a transit site to enable the close relatives of Travellers requiring medical care to have access to a legal transit site, as part of their conversation with local communities about the future of the CBC.

?  Continue to work with neighbouring local authorities in Cambridgeshire to find solutions where it is found that there is a lack of legal sites and stopping places for GRT communities.

?  Identify opportunities to work with the police to find best practice solutions to supporting Gypsy and Traveller communities when no legal site places are available and to enable them to move to safe stopping places.

On a show of hands the amendment was lost by 12 votes to 20.

 

Resolved (unanimously):

This council notes:

·  The right to peaceful assembly and protest is a fundamental human right and a crucial part of our democratic society. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (hereinafter “PCSC bill”) undermines that right and represents a significant impingement on civil liberties. Additionally, the PCSC bill specifically targets Gypsy and Traveller communities, effectively criminalising their way of life.

·  The provisions in part 3, concerning the right to protest and assemble, represent an unprecedented extension of policing powers which would effectively give both police and Government ministers the powers to ban or impose undue restrictions on peaceful protests, which interferes with the right to peaceful assembly, enshrined in international law. Many measures are neither proportionate nor necessary. The Bill also sets out to crackdown on explicitly nonviolent dissent - a form of protest which is clearly protected by the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.? There is a huge risk of abuse of powers under the bill as it gives the Home Secretary unfettered power, to define “serious disruption” without parliamentary approval.

·  The current version of the bill would also allow police to restrict static assemblies and vigils, rather than just moving demonstrations. A picket line outside a workplace, a sit-down protest or a solidarity vigil (like so many peaceful vigils held in Parker’s Piece) could all be limited or banned if they are deemed to have an undue “impact” upon people. The whole point of demonstrations is to have an impact. If we think of some of the key moments in civil rights history, where change happened, it was through protests such as the civil rights movement in the US, the suffragette’s movement in the UK or the women’s strike in Dagenham factories which led to the equal pay act for women in the UK.

·  The change in criminal threshold significantly lowers the standard to find someone guilty of a serious offence and the provisions are open to such wide-ranging and discretionary interpretation that they would almost certainly give rise to even more arbitrary and discriminatory approaches to how protests are managed. This may disproportionately impact on ethnic minority groups, who already experience disproportionality in the criminal justice system. The PCSC Bill also includes greater police powers to enhance stop and search– a tactic already used disproportionately against people of colour. The structural inequalities in the criminal justice system need to be addressed first, not exacerbated.

·  It is a really serious criminal offence which includes fine up to £10,000 and 10 years in prison for causing “serious annoyance” for taking part in a noisy protest. There will be a huge deterrent effect in terms of participating in protests or vigils as a result of the potential to be imprisoned for lengthy periods of time. Amnesty International has warned about the possibility of this leading to prisoners of conscience in this country, as a result of the bill, with people locked up for years for engaging in peaceful protests. The sort of thing we see in dictator regimes in other parts of the world.

·  Part 4 of the Bill contains measures specifically targeting Gypsy and Traveller communities, who are some of the most discriminated against and marginalised minority ethnic communities in UK society. Yet the new PCSCB Bill further targets them by criminalising trespass to land. These measures will further exacerbate inequalities and discrimination, pushing these groups into the criminal justice system as Gypsies and Travellers unable to pay a fine (£2500) could be imprisoned (three months).

·  No family willingly stops somewhere they are not welcome, with no running water, waste disposal or electricity, and the way to resolve this is not by criminalising GRT families or by introducing anti-encampment landscaping in open spaces.,. The existence of encampments needs to be understood not only in terms of the age-old cultural traditions of Gypsies and Travellers, but in terms of the historic failure of government to properly meet their accommodation needs. The proposals are being put forward despite the existence of a range of other eviction powers for encampments, and despite alternative solutions such as negotiated stopping agreements.

·  The new provisions also allow authorities to seize property and caravans, which effectively amounts to seizing their homes and all their worldly possessions. The measure is clearly discriminatory and disproportionate. The consequences of these measures will be devastating for Gypsy and Traveller families – suddenly without a home or possessions and with the lead family member thrown into the criminal justice system. This will also have implications for Gypsy and Traveller families with children in Cambridgeshire, who may be at risk of entering the care system.


This Council resolves to:

·  Express strong concerns about the provisions in Part 3 and Part 4 of the PCSCB Bill, which will have a significant impact on the UK Government’s adherence to its international and domestic human rights obligations and which will also affect relations and trust in Cambridge with Gypsy and Traveller communities.

·  Stand in solidarity with Traveller and Gypsy communities in Cambridge and continue to build trust and good relations with them.

·  Write to the Home Secretary to express strong concerns about the provisions in the PCSCB bill which impact on civil liberties including the right to protest and peaceful assembly and in relation to the provisions targeting Gypsy and Traveller communities.

·  Continue to work with neighbouring local authorities in Cambridgeshire to find solutions where it is found that there is a lack of legal sites and stopping places for GRT communities.

·  Identify opportunities to work with the police to find best practice solutions to supporting Gypsy and Traveller communities when no legal site places are available and to enable them to move to safe stopping places.