The controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill has today (14 September 2021) moved to Second Reading in the House of Lords, giving women’s groups another crucial opportunity to voice our opposition to this harmful legislation.
The Bill was passed in the House of Commons despite opposition from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and others, as well as mass protests. Its Second Reading in the Lords gives Peers the chance to debate the key principles and main purpose of legislation, and to raise any major concerns about where they think changes are needed.
EVAW joins Imkaan, Southall Black Sisters, Latin American Women’s Rights Service, Rights of Women and Working Chance in calling on the House of Lords to reject the Bill. In a joint briefing, the expert women’s organisations highlight that the Bill is an attack on our fundamental rights and one that threatens to further entrench existing racial inequalities in the UK.
Rather than progressing our struggle to end violence against women and girls, the legislation is a major threat to the fight against inequality in all its forms, including misogyny, racism and discrimination. Not only has the government failed to consult specialist women’s organisations about the content of the Bill, it contains flawed amendments relating to digital extraction from mobile phones in sexual offending cases, and draconian measures to curb rights to protest, which challenge our fundamental rights and freedoms.
Our joint briefing outlines the ways in which new legal duties proposed in the Bill, which are meant to encourage authorities to address serious violence, in fact risk leading to greater profiling, discrimination and intrusion in Black and minoritised people’s lives; given how the concept of ‘risk’ is racialised.
Following the landmark Lammy report (2017), which exposed the unequal treatment and outcomes for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the criminal justice system, it is vital that the government does not introduce legislation that will create even greater inequalities in our society.
Andrea Simon, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), said:
“Instead of enhancing access to justice and support for survivors of violence against women and girls, the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Court Bill will further entrench inequality and curtail our collective freedoms. There is a diverse movement of resistance against the legislation and we call on the Lords to reject this Bill today.”
Following widespread protests against the Bill across the UK, the Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland and Home Secretary Priti Patel recently received an open letter from more than 350 organisations including EVAW, opposing the Bill as “an attack on some of the most basic democratic rights of citizens”.
In addition, more than 600 health, social work and education professionals wrote to the Home Secretary to state that the legislation would “hinder [their] ability as frontline workers to effectively support the people with whom we work by eroding relationships of trust and duties of confidentiality…“Most importantly, it will expand the criminalisation, surveillance, and punishment of already over-policed communities.”
Along with many of our coalition members, EVAW calls for the Lords to vote against the PCSC Bill.
Spokespeople are available for comment.
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