A new police bill to be debated this week risks worsening racial and gender disparities in the justice system while forcing professionals to betray the trust of vulnerable people, hundreds of experts and others. a report warned.
In a letter to the Home Secretary, 665 general practitioners, nurses, social, youth and outreach workers, and teachers warned that the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is “oppressive” and would force frontline professionals to betray the trust of vulnerable people and become complicit in surveillance, ahead of a debate in the House of Lords this week.
A separate report said it would put vulnerable young women at increased risk of threatens more violence, abuse and exploitation.
The government wants to impose a legal obligation on public agencies, such as healthcare and education providers, to reduce and prevent serious violence by disclosing information about service users.
In the letter to Priti Patel, which will be sent on Monday, the signatories say they are “appalled” by the proposals, which they say “directly conflict with our duties and will actively endanger the people we work with.”
They write: “[T]his bill will hamper our ability, as front-line workers, to effectively support the people we work with by eroding relationships of trust and confidentiality obligations.
“More importantly, it will expand the criminalization, surveillance and punishment of already overpolished communities. “
The bill proposes to increase the sentence length for assaults on rescuers from 12 months to two years, but a report from Agenda, the Alliance for Women and Girls at Risk, and the Alliance for Youth Justice said assaults on rescue workers already accounted for 17% of total offenses leading to jail time for young black women aged 18 to 24, compared to 6% for their white counterparts.
Niya, a young woman accused of assaulting a police officer when she was 18, said she was suicidal and forcibly married.
Her family beat her and then called the police when she said she wanted to leave the marriage, she said. Surrounded by officers who told her she would be arrested, she panicked and kicked an officer.
“I think I would have reacted differently if they had stepped back, but because they were pressing on me and not giving me space, after going through what I just did, it was too much at this point. there, ”she said.
In the letter, experts warn that the proposed severe violence reduction orders will give police “one-on-one and no suspicion” stop and search power with minimal safeguards, as people are likely to face an attack. “Intrusive surveillance”. The report says young women forced into relationships or victims of criminal exploitation could face up to two years in prison because they “should have known” that someone in their business was in possession of drugs or drugs. ‘weapons.
Jemima Olchawski, CEO of Agenda, said vulnerable young women run the risk of being pushed into a system that “punishes them for their reaction to the trauma.” She added, “Once in the criminal justice system, they have limited access to specialized support and have to deal with their entrenched and complex trauma experiences, which puts them at increased risk of reoffending.
Pippa Goodfellow, director of the Alliance for Youth Justice, said the pandemic has put vulnerable girls and women at greater risk, which could increase delinquency. “It is vital that systems and services work together to meet these growing and emerging needs, while strongly opposing punitive measures that will criminalize those most in need of support,” she said.
Jun Pang, policy and campaign manager at Liberty, said the bill would “lead to harassment and oppressive surveillance of young people, working class people and people of color, especially black people” and would drag more people into the criminal sanctions system.
A petition opposing the bill’s proposals was signed by nearly 600,000 people, while more than 30,000 people wrote directly to the Prime Minister to oppose it.