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FORMER police chiefs have warned that sections of the policing Bill would hit marginalised groups the hardest and “exacerbate” serious violence.
A group of ex-police commanders, senior officers and advisers has written to Home Secretary Priti Patel to express concerns about some of the proposals in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which the House of Lords is continuing to consider today.
The legislation prompted widespread protests earlier this year after critics warned that it would hand the authorities too much power to ban peaceful demonstrations.
Among the letter’s signatories are Lord Paddick, a former deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, and Leroy Logan, a former Met superintendent who was a founding member of the National Black Police Association and its first chairman.
They asked Ms Patel to reconsider measures in the Bill that could “undermine the work police colleagues are doing to prevent and reduce serious violence and put already marginalised communities at further risk of harm.
“As experts on police use of force, racial profiling and stop and search, we believe that this Bill has dangerous implications for the fight against serious violence, an issue that demands police work in service to, not against, the communities facing its harms,” the letter said.
“Ultimately, these proposals will hit marginalised groups the hardest, disproportionately impacting black men and communities of colour with whom the police need to rebuild trust.
“The duty may actually exacerbate people’s experiences of alienation, exclusion and isolation – some of the root causes of serious violence.”
On the proposal to introduce serious violence reduction orders – to make it easier to stop and search those who have previously been convicted of carrying a knife – the letter said: “When stop and search powers are misused, they can be counterproductive, a waste of time and resources and, most importantly, damage relationships between the police and the public.”
Liberty campaigns officer Jun Pang said that there was a growing “chorus of opposition” to the “oppressive” legislation, adding: “The new police powers the Bill creates will lead to harassment and oppressive monitoring of young people, working-class people and people of colour – especially black people.
“Expanding existing measures like stop and search will funnel more people into the criminal punishment system and further divide communities. The Bill threatens the way of life of Gypsy and Traveller communities and silences those who want to speak out against injustice.”
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