Activism

Public do not support Priti Patel's plans to increase police powers, poll finds

The plans show a government 'out of step with the public', human rights group Liberty has warned.

Public Order Bill

Police and protesters at a Kill the Bill protest in London, April 2021 Image: Joao Daniel Pereira/Extinction Rebellion

Priti Patel’s plans to increase police powers through her Public Order Bill are not supported by the public, according to a new poll.

A survey carried out by human rights group Liberty has found seven in 10 people want the government to instead focus on the root causes of crime.

The new Public Order Bill will grant police greater stop and search powers, and creates new protest-related criminal offences – including making “locking on” a crime punishable by prison time.

Emmanuelle Andrews, policy and campaigns manager at Liberty, said the findings showed a government out of step with the public.

Andrews said: “It’s clear from these figures that Priti Patel is completely out of step with public opinion when it comes to dealing with problems like serious violence.”

“The new measures announced last week by the Home Secretary will serve only to widen existing divisions and put more people – particularly people of colour and children – at risk of police harassment and abuse of power.”

The Public Order Bill, introduced in response to protests from groups such as Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil, and Insulate Britain, would create a handful of new protest-related criminal offences.

“Locking on” will become a specific offence, carrying a maximum prison sentence of six months. Protesters could be jailed for up to a year for “interfering with key national infrastructure” – including printing presses.

After an autumn of Insulate Britain’s protests, the penalty for blocking highways will increase, and police will be able to impose “Serious Disruption Prevention Orders” to ban prolific activists from protests.

The Public Order Bill also expands the use of Section 60 “suspicion-less” stop and search powers, meaning police will be able to put the blanket order in place without informing communities.

Civil rights groups warned this would lead to “more criminalisation of Black people”.

Liberty’s polling found 73 per cent of respondents said police should not use tools and tactics which discriminate against people of colour.

Habib Kadri, research and policy manager at StopWatch, said: “When government policy is at odds with public sentiment, it ought to be supported by the evidence.

“However, the home secretary’s decisions over Section 60 stops and use of force tactics appear to be devoid of substance.

“They can only make sense when you understand that it is a top priority of this government to criminalise the most marginalised and impoverished communities in this country all in the name of restoring ‘law and order’.”

The public has been invited to have its say on the Public Order Bill by submitting written evidence. Here’s how you can do so.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
'We are here and we exist': Inside the neighbourhood offering sanctuary to queer Russians and Ukrainians
Pride

'We are here and we exist': Inside the neighbourhood offering sanctuary to queer Russians and Ukrainians

Actor Liz Carr says it hurts to hear her younger self 'wanted to die'
Liz Carr
Disability rights

Actor Liz Carr says it hurts to hear her younger self 'wanted to die'

Feeling like change in the UK isn't possible? Let these 28 purposeful campaigns prove otherwise
Activism

Feeling like change in the UK isn't possible? Let these 28 purposeful campaigns prove otherwise

Back to Black actor Eddie Marsan: 'There aren't any no-go areas in Tower Hamlets'
London

Back to Black actor Eddie Marsan: 'There aren't any no-go areas in Tower Hamlets'

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know