Julie Marson MP on Sarah Everard murder and Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill: 'It is totally wrong for people to use this tragic incident as a smokescreen to oppose legislation they don’t like'
Julie Marson, Conservative MP for Hertford and Stortford, writes a column for the Bishop's Stortford Independent every fortnight...
Some of the images that emerged from Saturday’s vigil for Sarah Everard in London were incredibly distressing.
Huge numbers of women and men have been moved by her dreadful murder and understandably wanted to honour Sarah’s memory in some way.
It’s wrong that any women should feel unsafe on the streets and too many of us have personal stories that make for an uncomfortable truth about some of the dangers in our society.
My heart goes out to Sarah’s family and friends, who must be suffering terribly, and I hope this can be a watershed moment for society that forces a change.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is in Parliament this week. Some people claim this Bill will somehow stop people’s right to protest, which is simply not true. Worse still is that they are also trying to conflate the Bill with the temporary Covid restrictions, which is a completely separate issue.
I strongly agree with Home Secretary Priti Patel that the policing troubles in London over the weekend need to be properly investigated, but it is totally wrong for people to use this tragic incident as a smokescreen to oppose legislation they don’t like.
The legislation is designed to prevent “serious disruptions” from taking place, like blocking a bridge or road to stop traffic from getting through, preventing a train from leaving the station, or physically preventing a printing press from operating because you disagree with the editorial position of that publication.
It will not have any impact on anyone’s right to protest peacefully. For example, a protest does not cause “serious disruption” just because it may “[distract] employees in nearby office”. Nor would a peaceful vigil in a park cause “serious disruption”.
On top of this section of the legislation which relates to “major disruptions” that could be caused by protests that spiral out of control, the Bill also covers other really important areas like introducing tougher sentences for child murderers, sex offenders, killer drivers and those attacking emergency service workers. Those campaigning against the Bill are also campaigning against these measures.