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Activism

How you can resist the government’s ‘draconian’ policing bill

The government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill is having its third reading in the House of Lords this week

The government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is due to have its third reading in the House of Lords on Wednesday, leaving few parliamentary hurdles before it becomes law.

The bill, which includes serious crackdowns on protests, has been the subject of widespread Kill the Bill protests already this year.

Campaigners say the “draconian” plans hand sweeping powers to police. Peaceful protests could be shut down if they are deemed to be too disruptive, or cause “serious annoyance.”

New amendments also give police the power to stop and search “without suspicion” in protest contexts, and to imprison anybody blocking a motorway.

The Big Issue has broken down the bill and its potential impact on marginalised communities in full here. But if you want to resist the bill, here’s what you can do.

Write to your MP or a member of the House of Lords about the policing bill

Perhaps your MP has made up their mind. But having an inbox full of angry constituents has more impact on politicians than you think.

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Activists suggest making the message personal, and speaking about the impact the bill will have on you, your family, your future, or your rights.

It can be emailed or physically posted to their parliamentary address – both of which are publicly available on the parliament website.

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Take part in a Kill the Bill protest near you

Protests are being held on Wednesday (December 8) to coincide with the bill’s third reading in the Lords.

In Cambridge, protesters are gathering at Parker’s Piece, near Parkside Police station, at 5pm.

In London, a protest is taking place at Victoria Tower Gardens at 5pm.

In Birmingham, a rally is being held at Waterstones in the city centre at 5pm.

In Bristol, protesters are planning to meet at College Green at 5pm.

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Support groups fighting the bill and defending those impacted by it

Supporting pressure groups, either through donations or direct efforts, can help them achieve their goals. Groups like Amnesty International, Sisters Uncut, Extinction Rebellion, and a broader Kill the Bill movement have all been vocal in their opposition to the policing bill.

There are also multiple charities and campaign groups warning of the bill’s impact on marginalised communities.

The bill threatens to criminalise Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) groups if they pitch up on private land – meaning their vehicles could be confiscated. Drive2Survive is a group set up to resist the bill, and held a 500-person rally in London in July.

Vulnerable women could also be placed in further jeopardy by plans to increase prison sentences for attacks on emergency workers. Crimes against emergency workers make up 17 per cent of the offences which lead to prison time for young Black women, compared to six per cent for young white women. The charity Agenda works to support women and girls at risk.

Tell people what’s happening

It may sound simple, but the bill has dropped out of the headlines since the spring. Talk of orders and amendments can be dry, but at its heart the bill threatens to take away fundamental freedoms.

As the policing bill returns to parliament, most will be unaware of its progress and even of the freedoms it threatens to take away. Conversations with friends, family, and online networks can help people realise the extent of the bill – and the relative lack of scrutiny its new measures have received.

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