Letters - Saturday, March 20, 2021
Sinister crime Bill will remove our rights
I have grave concerns about the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
The sacrifices made defeating totalitarianism in the Second World War are inspirational. As the first-hand pain and collective memory dwindles, wisdom critical to a civilised society is lost and the risk of extremism rises.
To reduce this, some countries, such as modern Germany, educate their citizens in the origins of the rise of fascism. It is shocking that our Government is imposing on England what Hitler failed to do, i.e. the removal and restriction of our rights to assemble and protest peacefully.
The Bill has many good intentions; a summary is to improve safety, penalise serious crimes more severely and improve court efficiency.
A closer look shows a sinister, subsidiary aim to “strengthen police powers to tackle non-violent protests that have a significant disruptive effect on the public or on access to Parliament”.
Joshua Rozenberg, the highly respected legal journalist, concludes: “Peaceful protesters who have caused inconvenience but no damage – or damage but no inconvenience – will, for the first time be facing lengthy prison sentences.”
Are we to accept being dictated to, unable to protest peacefully and living in fear of a 10-year prison sentence? Should protests such as that against the disastrous Iraq war be banned?
Should those who took part in Countryside Alliance and more recent NFU and Save British Farming protests be imprisoned because they might have annoyed someone?
Why do the sponsors of the Bill, including Rishi Sunak, act to suppress dissent? Is this the “taking back control” which they intended all along? Like autocrats, they appear to only want the “will of the people” when it suits them.
Promote safety, reduce fear
The current furore about the safety of women and girls, provoked by the appalling abduction and horrific murder of Sarah Everard, has focused our minds on the lack of respect for life and dignity shown by some men.
I hope that the outpouring of grief and anger will lead to major and sustained change in attitudes and behaviour.
Whilst the vast majority of the population show respect and concern for those around them, unfortunately there will always be a minority who fail to behave appropriately.
The reality is that it will probably be extremely difficult to achieve change in thinking and actions.
The current heightened anger, and focus on safety and dignity for women, strengthens the views of those who believed that the Black Lives Matter(BLM) campaign should have embraced both genders, all races and creeds, and that no one life is more important than another.
Some people argue that by not doing so, it alienated some sections of the public from the worthy cause of combating racial prejudice and injustice.
The BLM campaign followed widespread concerns regarding the circumstances surrounding the death of George Floyd in America at the hands of police officers.
The outrage was completely understandable and warranted specific, targeted action to address the culture of deep prejudice and disregard shown for the lives and rights of black people.
However, in the UK it seems that the BLM initiative appears to have run out of energy and is failing to make the desired impact.
It is viewed by many as just a slogan with habitual, mechanistic bending of the knee at sporting events being the only action arising.
The potential gains in changing attitudes and behaviours have been minimal.
I hope those leading the current movement to achieve improvement for women learn from this, think strategically about how we should all be encouraged to review our personal responsibility for safety, and how the Government should develop ideas, initiatives and policies to secure improvements in education, parenting, and the criminal justice system, in particular, tougher laws and sentences.
The challenge is to reduce fear and promote safety in both our homes and in public spaces.
Malcolm Rae OBE FRCN
Planning and our wellbeing
We hear a lot these days about mental health issues and the strains and stresses of life, even more so in these strange times, so I don’t think it’s any great surprise that, for a lot of us, we see our home or garden as a sanctuary.
So I do feel to lose your privacy by been overlooked can have a very negative effect. Privacy should be protected.
The impact of another building near existing properties should be a factor when any planning permission is put forward.
The right to light, the impact of any noise, light pollution and poor air quality should also be considered.
Unfortunately, due to the relentless house building and the relaxation of some planning laws coming this September, these issues and people’s concerns will have little sway, and our homes will become the place we want to get away from.