Theresa May, Home Secretary 2010-16, made a speech on this bill. It deserved respect as she’s an expert. Unfortunately her record as Home Secretary mocked her remarks to such an extent that they became hypocrisy.
“…we could see serious violence reduction orders against male members of gangs leading to their pressurising their girlfriends to be carrying knives…” (Addendum)
This is a nuanced and important point. May’s actual record on protecting women is poor. Her first policy decision, in 2010, abandoned the Labour Party’s policy on ‘go orders’. These orders forced domestic abusers out of the family home. Women in domestic abuse environments, as is well known, live in constant danger. Theresa ignored this to save money for Osborne’s Age of Austerity.
“A scheme to protect women from domestic abuse by removing violent partners from the family home is scrapped….as part of its drive to cut public spending.”1 (my emphasis)
Making vacuous statements about potential dangers is disingenuous at best, hypocrisy at worst. Her inability to understand ‘grooming’ gangs who targeted young women was part of her disinterest in the actual welfare of vulnerable women. She preferred the self-serving narrative provided by the police and social services departments.
“Then there was the cynical political correctness. Mrs May talked about coming down hard on hate crimes and lambasted the police about a lack of diversity. But she abjectly failed to identify the child rape rings of Rotherham, Rochdale, Sheffield, Bradford and Oxford as the racially and ethnically motivated hate crimes that they were.”2
Another issue Theresa highlighted is ‘endless bail’.
“…I would urge her [Priti Patel] to resist any suggestion that that should be extended, because we cannot go back to a situation where people are effectively left with their lives on hold, possibly for years, as a result of the operation of bail.” (Addendum)
She knew that, “The discrepancies in use of endless bail by differing forces that did come clean is staggering – the West Midlands force has had 85 people on bail without charge for more than six months … and the similar size, similar demographic West Yorkshire force has 10 times as many, at 859.”3 (my emphasis)
She’s a recent convert to free speech, which doesn’t mean hearing what you like. This point escaped her when she was Home Secretary.
Theresa May, made some revealing comments regarding her views on freedom of speech. [She said that]…. there was nothing ‘educational’ about allowing those with extremist views to speak at university campuses. Welcoming the efforts by many universities to ban extremists from campus, she argued that ‘defending the value of free speech’ was no excuse to allow hateful speakers to spout their views.4 (my emphasis)
This contrasts sharply with her current position, “I absolutely accept that the police have certain challenges, for example when people glue themselves to vehicles or to the gates of Parliament, but freedom of speech is an important right in our democracy, however annoying or uncomfortable that might sometimes be.” (Addendum)
In what reads like an unconscious epithet to her own career she said,
“It is tempting when Home Secretary to think that giving powers to the Home Secretary is very reasonable, because we all think we are reasonable, but future Home Secretaries may not be so reasonable.” (Addendum) (my emphasis)
Theresa was the architect of the notorious ‘hostile environment’ policy, which is, “…. one of the harshest immigration policies in the history of the United Kingdom, and has been widely criticised as inhumane, ineffective, and unlawful”5
Theresa May was the warm up act for Priti Patel and the slide towards authoritarianism in Britain. Her speech was empty offensive rhetoric and a masterclass in hypocrisy.
Addendum: May’s speech ‘Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill’ 15th March 2021 (the full text)
I join the Home Secretary and the shadow Home Secretary in sending my condolences to Sarah Everard’s family and friends.
There are elements of this Bill, which is a very large and significant Bill, that I really welcome: the action on unauthorised encampments, on serious violence, on people in positions of trust and on changes to sentencing. I particularly, of course, welcome the change to sentencing for death by dangerous driving, which reflects the change I proposed in my ten-minute rule Bill. It was supported, as the shadow Home Secretary said, across the whole of the House, because many Members of this House have constituency cases that have been affected by this, as my hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Steve Brine) indicated in his intervention. My desire to bring this forward was first brought about by the case—the very sad case—of my constituent Bryony Hollands, who was killed by somebody under the influence of drugs and drink, but there have been other constituency cases, such as those of Eddy Lee and Max Simmons. On their behalf, on behalf of their families and on behalf of all those affected by this, I say simply to the Government, thank you.
I would like to focus on a number of areas where I worry that there could be unintended consequences of the measures being brought forward by the Government in this Bill. I absolutely see the reason for bringing forward the serious violence reduction orders, but I welcome the fact that they are being piloted, because I think there could be unintended consequences in two areas. The first is in stop-and-search. Stop-and-search is an important tool, but it must be used lawfully and it must not be used disproportionately against certain communities. My concern is that we do not go backwards on improvements that have been made on stop-and-search, and that we actually ensure that we do not see this being used disproportionately and a disproportionate increase taking place.
The other area is girls in gangs, and I am concerned—I have had a discussion with the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Louth and Horncastle (Victoria Atkins), about this—that we could see serious violence reduction orders against male members of gangs leading to their pressurising their girlfriends to be carrying knives, with the impact that would have on those girls. The way in which girlfriends of gang members are used to get at rival gangs is a worry and needs to be given more attention, and I do not want to see the position of girls being further exacerbated, unintentionally, as a result of these orders.
My second concern is about pre-charge bail. I can absolutely see that, as a result of the changes that were brought in previously, we have seen too many cases where people have not been put on bail, particularly where the crime was a serious violent crime against a woman. However, I ask the Home Secretary to look carefully at the nine-month period that is being set before the police have to go to the magistrates court for an extension of bail. Certainly, I would urge her to resist any suggestion that that should be extended, because we cannot go back to a situation where people are effectively left with their lives on hold, possibly for years, as a result of the operation of bail.
Finally, I want to raise one area that has already been raised: I do have some concerns about some of the aspects of the public order provisions in the Bill. I absolutely accept that the police have certain challenges, for example when people glue themselves to vehicles or to the gates of Parliament, but freedom of speech is an important right in our democracy, however annoying or uncomfortable that might sometimes be. I know that there will be people who will have seen scenes of protests and asked, “Why aren’t the Government doing something?” The answer, in many cases, may simply be that we live in a democratic, free society.
I do worry about the potential unintended consequences of some of the measures in the Bill, which have been drawn quite widely. Protests have to be under the rule of law, but the law has to be proportionate. The first area that I will mention is giving police the powers to deal with static protests in the way that they have been able to deal with marches. Those have always been differentiated in the past. The second is around noise and nuisance; some of the definitions do look quite wide, and I would urge the Government to look at those definitions.
The final area I want to mention is the power for the Home Secretary to make regulations about the meaning of
“serious disruption to the activities of an organisation…or…to the life of the community.”
It is tempting when Home Secretary to think that giving powers to the Home Secretary is very reasonable, because we all think we are reasonable, but future Home Secretaries may not be so reasonable. I wonder whether the Government will be willing to publish a draft of those regulations during the Bill’s passage so that we can see what they are going to be and ensure that they are not also encroaching on the operational decisions of the police.
There are very important elements of this Bill, but I would urge the Government to consider carefully the need to walk a fine line between being popular and populist. Our freedoms depend on it.
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill – Monday 15 March 2021 – Hansard – UK Parliament columns 77-8
1 Theresa May scraps power to ban domestic abusers from victims’ homes | The Independent | The Independent
2 Theresa May’s record as Home Secretary is alarming, not reassuring | The Spectator
3 Why are so many people in Britain on endless police bail without charge? | Police | The Guardian This article comes from 2013 the peak of her period as Home Secretary
4 Theresa May’s war on free-speech extremists – spiked (spiked-online.com)