Draft motion for Labour conference 2021 on the Police Bill

Curbing police powers, defending and enlarging rights to protest, changing society

Policing, criminal justice and the right to protest

Conference notes the powerful and inspiring Black Lives Matter protests and protests against the Police Bill.

The Bill threatens to gut the right to protest, including of workers and unions; worsen an already draconian and repressive criminal justice system; and target Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

Heavier and more punitive policing and criminal justice are not solutions to society’s problems. We must attack poverty and inequality, restore and expand social provision – starting by comprehensively reversing cuts, outsourcing and privatisation, and attacks on workers’ rights – and narrow the spheres in which criminal justice operates. We must fight for a society based on provision for people’s needs, not profit-making.

Labour will campaign for and commit to:

• Repealing the Police Bill if passed; anti-protest restrictions in the 1986 Public Order Act, 1994 Criminal Justice Act, 2011 Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act; and anti-strike laws.
• Tackling police violence and abuse of power, replacing the “Independent Office for Police Conduct” with a genuinely independent body with representation from friends’ and families’ campaigns, human rights organisations and the labour movement.
• Greatly strengthening police accountability to elected local authorities, including in operational matters.
• Curbing police powers and role, including use of force, stop-and-search and police presence in schools. General demilitarisation and disarming.
• Addressing drug-related problems through public-health policies instead of criminalisation.
• Adequate provision so that mental-health crises are dealt with by trained civilian workers, not police.
• A major prisoner release programme and sharply curtailing use of prison sentences.

(249 words, 8 word title)

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