On Monday 5th July, Mary spoke against the controversial Police, Crimes, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill in Parliament where she highlighted how the bill will impede on the rights of the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller community.
You can find the full text of Mary’s speech below – including the final three words which were cut off by Madam Deputy Speaker!
Although I have grave concerns about many aspects of this Bill, I will limit my remarks to the amendments in my name, those of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Ian Byrne), and new clause 102.
This Bill needlessly criminalises Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. It will turn civil offences into criminal ones and punish littering and inconvenience with prison and homelessness. The Bill does not target a problem; it targets minority and ethnic communities. It is driven by hatred and division and will serve only to fuel hatred and division. Only last month, the hon. Member for Ashfield (Lee Anderson) demonstrated this by saying:
“The Travellers I am talking about are more likely to be seen leaving your garden shed at 3 o’clock in the morning, probably with your lawnmower and half of your tools.”––[Official Report, Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Public Bill Committee, 8 June 2021; c. 410.]
Those words racially stereotype Travellers and paint an entire community as criminals. They were racist and repugnant and show the bigotry that this Bill promotes.
On top of this, the draconian powers included in the Bill are being pushed upon police despite their insistence that they do not want or need them. The National Police Chiefs Council and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners have said that “trespass is a civil offence and our view is that it should remain so”, while 93.7% of police bodies support increased site provision as the solution to unauthorised encampments. Both the police and the travelling communities are in agreement on this. I urge the Government to listen and to support new clause 102 and the amendments in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby. The Government should be focused on improving society for everyone, yet they have become fixated on attacking an already much persecuted minority at the expense of many and to the benefit of none. In doing so, they are ignoring ready-made solutions. Organisations such as Friends, Families and Travellers have called for increased and improved site provision while highlighting the value of negotiated stopping, because the reality is that if Travellers cannot stop with authorisation, then they must stop without it.
I tabled my amendments because I believe that it is the role of politicians to protect minorities, not persecute them. New clause 51 seeks to address the racism that GRT communities face every day by forcing the Government to review the prevention, investigation and prosecution of crimes against these communities, while new clause 52 would require the Government to provide proper training for the relevant public bodies. Although valuable amendments to this dystopic Bill will undoubtedly fall today, I would like to reassure my constituents that the fight against legislation is not the end, just the beginning.
Mary continues to hold the government to account on behalf of all her constituents. If you want to follow Mary’s campaigns closer, follow her on Twitter here.