The Policing Bill is being debated in the House of Lords this week (10th and 12th January 2022), at a time when new measures added to the Bill have drawn widespread condemnation from a broad cross-section of society. These new measures include an expansion of suspicionless stop and search connected to protests and ASBO-style protest banning orders.
The End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) and other specialist women’s organisations are part of a diverse coalition of groups denouncing the Bill as an attack on our fundamental rights that will disproportionately impact Black and minoritised communities.
We believe that the government has cynically included amendments in the Bill related to violence against women and girls in an attempt to quell opposition and present the legislation in a positive light for women. We reject this attempt to divide our resistance.
We are clear that this Bill will not make us safer; instead it undermines our fight for equality and to end violence against women and girls. The right to protest is a feminist issue and increased police powers, profiling, surveillance and criminalisation will disproportionately impact Black and minoritised communities; worsening racial inequality.
EVAW remains opposed to the Serious Violence Duty and Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVROs) within the Bill, which were debated by the Lords on Monday 10th January 2022. During the debate, Peers such as Baroness Meacher and the Bishop of Manchester talked about the ways in which SVROs risk drawing young women in coercive relationships into the criminal justice system.
Some amendments were accepted to create a more robust pilot for SVROs that considers equalities impacts and impacts on survivors of domestic abuse, and to require a parliamentary vote before they can be rolled out nationally. While we remain clear that the serious violence duty and SVROs should be scrapped altogether, we urge MPs not to overturn these amendments in the Commons.
Janaya Walker, Public Affairs Manager at the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), said:
“The government claims that the Policing Bill supports the fight to end violence against women and girls. This is just not true. This law will worsen racial inequality while attacking our rights and freedoms to protest injustice.
The End Violence Against Women Coalition is part of a broad and diverse resistance against this legislation. We strongly object to the weaponisation of violence against women and survivors’ trauma as a means to justify some of the most regressive legislation of our generation. The government will not pass this law in our name. We call for the Bill to be scrapped.”
Contact: Sinead Geoghegan, Communications Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, 07960 744 502