Police and Crime Commissioner candidates for Thames Valley have published their manifestos for elections on 6 May. Cherwell asked them for their views on the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and ‘Kill the Bill’ protests.
The bill seeks to place greater restrictions on protests and gives police the power to place constraints on demonstrations, including their time span and noise levels. It seeks to increase sentences for serious criminals and sexual offenders.
Since it passed its second reading there have been ‘Kill the Bill’ protests across England which demand the government drop the bill. Protestors argue the bill targets Black Lives Matter activists, the Gypsy Roma Traveller community, and activists for women’s rights.
Clashes with police at a peaceful vigil for the murdered Sarah Everard has sparked opposition to increased police powers by the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties. No Labour MPs voted in favour of the bill at its second reading. Labour party leader, Kier Starmer, has said the bill would have a severe impact on Black communities which is “real cause for concern.”
Matthew Barber, the current Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley and Conservative Party candidate, welcomes the bill. He believes the “new legislation will be a big step towards ensuring punishments fit the severity of the crime.”
Barber is “particularly pleased to see the introduction of long awaited measures to help the police deal with illegal encampments that can cause harm, disruption and distress to our local communities.”
Laetisia Carter, the Labour Party candidate, states she is “wholeheartedly [opposed] the police bill” and is “against it for so many reasons. It takes the country in a worrying anti democracy direction”. Carter urges the electorate to “remember this is not the police’s bill” in a Facebook statement.
John Howson, candidate for the Liberal Democrats, has voiced opposition to the bill. He believes new protests restrictions “are part of the Conservative Government’s anti-democratic attempts to silence any opposition to its policies, and the Liberal Democrats will fiercely resist them.”
Howson states the policing of ‘Kill the Bill’ protests “should not be to raise tensions. Police forces should debrief to learn from outcomes for management of future protests.”
Alan Robinson, an Independent candidate, states that his “concern is with the brave officers who were trying to police a very difficult situation” following violent ‘Kill the Bill’ protests.
“It is long overdue for people to realise that officers are people [too], and deserve exactly the same courtesy as everyone else. Just because they are in uniform doesn’t give anyone the right to be abusive towards another person.”
The election for the Police and Crime Commissioner takes place on 6 May. You must register to vote to take part.
Image Credit: Lawrence OP / CC BY-NC 2.0