Tomorrow, I will be voting against the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Bill.
This was a big opportunity for meaningful reform that the Tories have completely blown.
The bill is an utter mess.
There are some good and important reforms proposed on dangerous driving, protecting the protectors and on sexual abuse by people in positions of trust. Together with other Labour MPs, I support and have campaigned for these measures, alongside others taken from the Lammy Review.
However, the government has undermined the good parts of its bill by also including many unacceptable proposals. These include draconian measures that impose disproportionate controls on free expression and the right to protest. The events of this weekend underline the need to prevent such a heavy handed clampdown.
The bill as it stands sends the wrong message on what our priorities should be. How can we keep people safe by giving people 10 year sentences for crimes against statues which is more than they would get for various crimes that disproportionately impact on women such as stalking?
It also fails to address fundamental problems rooted within the criminal justice system and in wider society. There is nothing for victims of crime and nothing on rehabilitation or the prevention of crime.
We have a serious crisis in our police and justice system that has been created by a decade of cuts and failed Tory ideology. The Crown Court backlog is now at an all-time record high of more than 56,000 cases. Victims of crime are being asked to wait up to 4 years to get to court and many victims and witnesses are dropping out of the justice entirely because of delays. Violent criminals are being spared prison because of delays
A well thought out bill, backed by a comprehensive plan to bring our criminal justice system back from the brink, could have been achieved but this goes nowhere near to addressing the key issues that this country is facing. Instead it is badly written, anti-democratic and full of holes.
That is why I will be opposing it when it comes before the House of Commons this week.