‘Part 3 of the bill will restrict the right to protest… Part 4 will prevent Gypsy and Traveller communities from pursuing their traditional nomadic way of life.'
Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) has said it is ‘devastated’ that the House of Lords has voted through the final measures of the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
The vote on 26 April means that UK police will have unprecedented powers to restrict protests they deem ‘too noisy’. The verdict comes one year after the bill was introduced and three months after back-and-forth between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, during which time MPs repeatedly rejected the peers’ amendments.
Grace Da Costa, BYM’s public affairs and media manager, told the Friend: ‘I’m extremely disappointed that over a year of tireless campaigning by Quakers and others has not persuaded the government to make any concessions on the protest and trespass parts of this bill. I’m grateful to all the Friends who have written to their MPs and taken action to oppose this terrible piece of legislation. We did persuade many MPs and peers to speak out against it… For now I’m focusing on everything we have achieved during this campaign, including uniting a diverse group of campaigners and preventing the government from introducing Serious Disruption Prevention Orders and expanding “stop and search” powers.’
Paul Parker, recording clerk of BYM, said that they were ‘devastated’ they hadn’t been able to convince the government or MPs to remove the ‘draconian’ measures. ‘Part 3 of the bill will restrict the right to protest… Part 4 will prevent Gypsy and Traveller communities from pursuing their traditional nomadic way of life. We stand in solidarity with those in already-marginalised groups who will be disproportionately harmed by the provisions in the bill.’
The Police Bill Alliance, an informal coalition of more than 350 UK organisations, including Quakers in Britain, that opposed the bill, said it was a ‘dark day for democracy’.
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