The controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has passed its second reading in the House of Commons by 359-263.
It will now go to the committee and report stage where MPs will pick at its most controversial elements and attempt to make amendments to it. It will then return to the Commons for a third reading, after which it will be sent to the House of Lords.
The contents of the bill are far reaching, with implications on the right to protest, the protection of memorials, penalties for assaulting emergency staff and stop and search.
It will grant police additional powers in managing protests, including allowing them to set start and finish times and imposing ‘maximum noise levels’ on static protests. It also seeks to deter against protests occurring around Parliament by ensuring vehicle entrances around the Estate remain unobstructed.
The maximum punishment for assaulting emergency staff has been doubled from 1 to 2 years, while the legislation could also make damage to memorials punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.
The fact that the bill will restrict civil liberties – even after the pandemic – has been a big cause for frustration among human rights groups such as liberty.