Faith and belief leaders urge MPs to approve changes to Policing Bill

The United Reformed Church (URC) has signed a joint faith and belief letter to MPs ahead of final votes on the Policing Bill.

The letter asks MPs to support the Lords’ amendments to Part 3 of the Bill, including removing the ability to put noise limits on protests.

It urges MPs to speak out against measures that remain unchanged in the bill, particularly those that will disproportionately affect marginalised communities.

The Revd Clare Downing, Moderator of the URC General Assembly, signed the letter alongside 80 other faith and belief representatives.

In the letter, the leaders say: “Part 3 of the bill will have a chilling effect on nonviolent protest. It will hinder people of faith and belief, and many others, in speaking out on the issues they care passionately about. It is also likely to affect prayer vigils, public acts of worship, community events and street

“It will have a disproportionate negative impact on already over-policed groups such as People of Colour. We urge you to support the Lords’ amendments to this part of the bill, particularly the removal of the power to put noise restrictions on protests. We also ask you to speak out against the draconian measures that remain in the bill, such as increased fines and sentences for protest-related offences.”

The appeal follows a scathing letter, published in the Independent on 26 October 2021, where dozens of leaders, including Revd Downing, warned that the  Bill was “unacceptable in a democratic society.”

MPs will debate the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill on 28 February in a process known as ‘Commons consideration of Lords amendments’. If amendments are passed back and forth between the Commons and the Lords this is known as ‘ping pong’.

Quakers in Britain, who convened the letter, sent the letter to all MPs on 24 February along with a joint briefing for MPs coordinated by Liberty.

The full text of the letter and list of signatories can be read here.