Female protesters fear policing bill will ramp up officers violence against them

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Female protesters have raised fears the policing bill will improve officers violence in direction of them as they warned the laws might embolden some police officers to be extra misogynistic and racist.

Campaigners informed The Independent it’s notably worrying the controversial laws that grew to become legislation on the finish of April was rolled out within the context of officers being criticised for failing to root out violence against ladies inside their very own ranks.

The policing act has been broadly criticised by marketing campaign teams for rolling again human rights – with opponents warning the laws cracks down on residents’ proper to protest in addition to compounding issues of over-policing and the criminalisation of marginalised communities.

Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, a number one civil liberties marketing campaign group, informed The Independent: “The concern is that girls have at all times relied on protests and demonstrations to additional our rights and are additionally extra vulnerable to excesses of police powers.”

Ms Carlo famous the policing bill was launched against the “backdrop of very well-documented abuses of police powers” and “police violence against women”. The laws is especially worrying given future years will see rising protests and unrest over the price of dwelling disaster, in addition to environmental and social justice campaigns, she added.

Ms Carlo mentioned: “The bill is a protest crackdown bill. It can make almost any regular protest and demonstration illegal. A lot of people will enter into protest situations with anxiety. If the police want to arrest them, there is a possibility that might happen – they might be deemed to be making too much noise or disruption.”

The campaigner warned the policing bill “will have a broad chilling effect” on citizen’s rights – voicing issues the laws will make protest much less readily accessible.

She added: “We are able to make change by locking on, by causing amounts of disruption and holding protests. Unfortunately, the women who will do that will face arrests and prosecutions.

“The prosecutions of women at the vigil for Sarah Everard are such a clear example of how – even before the policing bill – women can so easily be prosecuted for protest”.

According to the federal government, the policing act will “strengthen police powers to tackle non-violent protests that have a significant disruptive effect on the public or on access to parliament”.

The Police Bill Alliance, a free coalition of greater than 350 UK organisations who’re against the laws, referred to the laws passing the final parliamentary hurdle as “a dark day for democracy”. While Liberty, a human rights charity, branded the policing bill as “discriminatory and authoritarian”.

Police are handed extra powers to close down peaceable however “noisy” protests underneath the laws, in addition to preserve tabs on activists and criminalise them. However, the Lords put ahead a slew of amendments culling a few of the most fiercely criticised anti-protest parts within the laws.

Patsy Stevenson, whose photograph went viral after her arrest at a vigil for Everard, informed The Independent the policing bill removes residents’ “human rights” and “freedom of expression”.

The 29-year-old constructed up a profile after police pinned her to the bottom whereas she was being arrested at a vigil in Clapham in south London in March final yr to recollect Everard, who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by serving Met Police officer Wayne Couzens.

Ms Stevenson, who launched authorized motion against the police, mentioned: “Protesters are supposed to be disruptive and noisy. Even if we did a peaceful protest, the bill gives police the right to decide whether they deem it lawful or not.”

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The activist, who’s from Essex however now lives in Surrey, mentioned she is especially frightened about going to protests within the wake of the policing bill turning into legislation as she predicted others would really feel equally.

“What do we do if we stop fighting for our human rights?” she added. It turns into a dictatorship. Before this bill was in place, the police abused their powers and made illegal arrests. The police had been sexist, racist, misogynist and transphobic”.

Ms Stevenson, who’s a physics scholar, warned these points might rise underneath the policing bill – including officers “will be emboldened”. The activist mentioned police officers recognise her at protests as she claimed they “stare” her “down”.

“They look to their other police mates and point me out,” she added. “I think they are a bit too scared to say something untoward or be heavy-handed with me as they know there is the potentiality for me to sue them.”

Andrea Simon, director of End Violence Against Women Coalition, informed The Independent: ”Protest is a feminist concern, which is firmly embedded within the wrestle for ladies’s rights – and notably the rights of Black and minoritised ladies.”

Ms Simon added latest years have proven how instrumental protest is “in the face of endemic violence against women, to gather together and to collectively demand change”.

Ms Simon mentioned they “are alarmed by the introduction of a Public Order Bill, which seeks to further crackdown on our rights to protest, and our ability to express dissent about systemic state failings to address violence against women”.

The public order bill, which not too long ago handed its second studying within the Commons, is an try and revive measures proposed by way of the policing bill which had been scrapped.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the National Police Chiefs’ Council informed The Independent “misogynistic, racist or disrespectful” views and actions inside society are mirrored in policing.

“It matters more in policing because we hold intrusive powers, and our legitimacy is built on public confidence,” the consultant added.

“As a result of shining a light, more misconduct will be discovered, more officers will be sanctioned, leave the service or even be charged and convicted of crimes.”

The consultant mentioned “forces are responding unequivocally to allegations of police-perpetrated abuse including an urgent review of all current allegations of sexual misconduct, domestic abuse and other violence against women and girls related offences against officers and staff, ensuring that they are being investigated fully and quickly.”

A Home Office spokesperson warned the claims on this article are “completely unfounded” – including whereas the “freedom to protest” is a key proper, the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Act was wanted as “the laws to manage highly disruptive protests” are outdated.

The consultant added: “The new measures tackle the selfish minority of protesters who are highly disruptive and whose actions endanger the public, such as those who block ambulances from reaching hospitals or prevent hundreds of people getting to work.”

Lisa Longstaff, a spokesperson for Women Against Rape, who has been concerned in ladies’s rights activism for 4 a long time, mentioned she had stood in fierce opposition to the brand new powers unveiled within the policing bill.

“Highlighting how they are impacting women and girls at the forefront of most protests, including Black Lives Matter, climate justice, the decriminalisation of rape and police strip-searching children,” she added.

While Cristel Amiss, one other lifelong activist who’s a spokesperson for Women of Colour, a grassroots group campaigning for ladies’s rights, mentioned: “The government’s response to mass outpourings – highlighting years of impunity for police violence, corruption and illegality – is the Police Act and other repressive legislation giving them even more power to abuse.”

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