Last night, I, along with other Labour MPs voted against the Government’s Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill at Third Reading.
Unfortunately, the Bill still passed the House of Comons 365 votes to 265.
We couldn’t, in good faith, vote for a Bill that does nothing to reverse the Conservatives’ failure to address the epidemic of violence against women and girls – and which imposes draconian restrictions on all of our freedoms including the right to protest.
Instead of focusing on properly protecting the public, the Bill is full of divisive nonsense like locking up protestors who cause ‘annoyance,’ as well as those who damage statues of slave owners, for longer than those who rape women.
This should have been a watershed moment to change the criminal justice system so it works for women, not to try and divide the country.
This Bill isn’t tough on crime, it is tough on the freedoms, rights and civil liberties all of us enjoy.
The Tories also voted down Labour’s proposals to increase minimum sentences for rapists, stalkers and those who break the anonymity of rape survivors, against making it easier for victims of rape and sexual violence to give evidence, against a new offence of street sexual harassment, against committing to make misogyny a hate crime, and against toughening sentences for domestic abusers and murderers.
Other amendments voted down by the Tories include those we put forward to protect shopworkers from assaults and to create new specific offenses for pet thieves.
We have called on the Government to drop its poorly thought-out proposals and instead work with Labour to legislate to tackle violence against women which is forcing so many across the country to live in fear. The Government have not worked with Labour during the Committee Stage of this Bill to deliver these proposals. As well as to deliver the important areas that are long promised, like tougher sentences for attacks on frontline workers and increased sentences for terrorists.
Amendments to the Bill that we pushed:
New Clause 97 – Section 28 – Making giving evidence easier for rape and sexual assault survivors
- Labour has tabled an amendment to ensure victims of rape and serious sexual offences should be able to have their evidence recorded and cross-examined prior to trial. This would ensure that victims can give their evidence as soon as possible, improving the accuracy of their testimony, relieving some of the stress and anxiety caused while awaiting a trial, and allowing them to pursue pre-trial counselling.
New Clauses 31 and 32 to support Retail Workers
- Incidents of violence, threats and abuse directed towards retail workers have skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic. That’s why the Labour Party has been clear: this behaviour is simply not part of the job, and more must be done to protect retail workers on the frontline.
- Labour has tabled amendments that would create a specific offence of assaulting a shop worker with a sentence of up to 12 months, and a new offence for assaults committed as a direct result of workers enforcing statutory age restrictions.
- They will give greater protection to retail workers as they go about their job, particularly as they enforce statutory age restrictions like on the sale of acid or knives.
New Clause 98 – Pet theft offence
- Labour has tabled an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill that would create a new specific offence for pet thieves.
- It comes following an estimated increase in dog theft of 250 percent in 2020. Meanwhile just one percent of dog theft crimes have led to a prosecution, according to the Pet Theft Reform campaign.