The BMC along with 250 organisations has written to the Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Justice to share real concerns over the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill published last week.
The Bill contains numerous threats to the right to peaceful protest and access to the countryside, criminalise Gypsy and Traveller communities’ way of life, as well as a whole host of expansive policing powers, but it is also being rushed through parliament during a pandemic and before civil society and the public have been able to fully understand its implications. This is also against the backdrop of important legislation such as the Environment Bill being repeatedly delayed and put on hold due to a lack of parliamentary time.
The BMC are particularly concerned that the Bill:
Threatens the right to peaceful protest – the rights to access the outdoors have been won on the back of previous generations protesting
Requires clarity to avoid unintended consequences – Part 4 of the Bill (Unauthorised Encampments) relates to ‘residing on land without consent in or with a vehicle’. However, the lack of clear definitions in the legislation may mean that ‘vehicle’ could include a bicycle and could serve to increase tensions between landowners and those accessing the outdoors.
The BMC will continue to lobby MPs during the passage of the Bill to ensure that the rights to peaceful protest and the rights to access our countryside are not impacted.
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