This Bill will help cut crime and make communities safer by introducing tougher sentencing for the worst criminal offenders, and ending automatic early release from prison for serious crimes. Longer sentences, reflecting the severity of the crime, plus more emphasis on rehabilitation, will help end the cycle of offenders being released only to offend again or even escalate. In addition, the Bill modernises court processes, aiming to make the court and tribunal system more efficient and thus clear the backlog of cases. It also empowers police to keep communities safe, including cracking down on knife crime, and tackling unauthorised encampments.
There has been much publicity about provisions allowing police to take a more proactive approach to especially disruptive protests, especially after the Metropolitan Police’s policing of the vigil on Clapham Common after the horrific death of Sarah Everard. I found those scenes very concerning, but I must stress that this Bill does not curtail our basic right to protest.
Some recent protests have ground infrastructure to a halt and stopped people going about their daily lives. The Government is therefore modernising the legislation, which dates from 1986, to reflect how policing and protests have evolved. This means ensuring that the powers available to police for these ‘static’ protests are in line with other forms of protest. The introduction of a statutory offence of ‘public nuisance’ also simply replaces an existing common law offence, in line with Law Commission proposals from 2015.
This Bill will also make our country safer for women and girls. Among other provisions, it strengthens the framework for managing sex offenders, and makes rapists and other violent sex offenders serve more time in custody. Between this and the Domestic Abuse Bill, which is also currently going through Parliament, I am pleased the Government is acting to tackle violence against women and girls.