Gypsy, Roma and Traveller rights / Protest rights / Stop and search

Mass petition shows scale of dissent as oppressive Policing Bill returns to Parliament

Posted on 05 Jul 2021

  • 600K signatories in landmark opposition to proposed laws
  • Leading organisations unite against authoritarian plans
  • Widespread protests expected in ‘summer of dissent’ at oppressive Bill

A mass petition with over 600,000 signatures was delivered to the Government today, demonstrating the strength of public pushback to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (the Policing Bill).

The landmark mass petition was coordinated between human rights groups, environmentalists, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller advocates and other charities, gaining 580,000 signatories.

Representatives from this broad coalition of organisations delivered the petition today to the Home Secretary and Justice Secretary, ahead of MPs preparing for the Report stage of the Bill, which also starts today (Monday 5 July). This follows over 30,000 people writing directly to the Prime Minister to object to the Bill, in an action run by Amnesty UK.

The groups involved in organising the petition include:

  • 38 Degrees
  • 350.org
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Global Justice Now
  • Greenpeace
  • Liberty
  • SumOfUs
  • Tipping Point

Since it was officially tabled earlier this year, the Policing Bill has caused widespread outrage and the petition is the latest sign of a groundswell of objection to the Government’s dangerous proposals, including:

While the Bill covers a broad range of issues, three key areas have concerned human rights campaigners.

These include new police powers which would threaten the right to protest for everyone, including restrictions on noise, “nuisance” and locations of protests.

There are also proposals to increase stop and search powers and a “prevent style” duty on knife crime which Liberty has warned will increase profiling and discriminatory policing of people of colour.

For some the Bill is not just a crackdown – it represents an existential threat. If passed it could criminalise the entire way of life of Gypsy and Traveller communities. Campaigners from these communities are launching a summer-long campaign on 7July at the Drive 2 Survive demonstration in Parliament Square. MPs and campaigners will speak out against the Bill at a major demonstration against this threat to the way of life of nomadic communities.

Liberty Director Gracie Bradley said:

“No matter where we come from or what we believe, we all want to know we can speak out against injustice, to live life freely, as we choose, without fear of oppressive state surveillance and discrimination. Those in power want to take this away from all of us.

“Opposition to the Government’s dangerous proposals is growing in strength as people begin to understand how much this legislation would undermine fundamental rights. Those in power must listen to the chorus of opposition they are facing and scrap these plans.”

Jake Bowers, co-chair of the Drive 2 Survive campaign, said:

“The Policing Bill is the single biggest threat to the traditional way of life of Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers in our lifetime. Our communities have unified to fight the bill, but we still need help to stop it.

“We will peacefully gather in Parliament Square to launch a Summer of Discontent against the Bill and its intention to completely outlaw nomadic Gypsy and Traveller culture across the UK. Our communities and our allies will show the Government that they cannot simply ban our culture and our way of life, and these proposals must be scrapped.”

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