Best Coalition or Collaboration

The Police Bill Alliance

The campaign led to an extraordinary and unprecedented series of fourteen defeats for the Government in the House of Lords. It lost nearly every one of the anti-protest measures it tried to add to the Bill.

The Campaign

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act (known as the Police Bill) was introduced in March 2021. It posed a significant threat to democracy and human rights. It placed severe restrictions on the right to protest and would have a serious impact on already over-policed communities such as people of colour, people experiencing homelessness and rough sleeping, and Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities through the criminalisation of ‘unauthorised encampments’.

Consequently, a huge range of civil society groups, networks, organisations, and activists sought to stop or amend different aspects of the Bill. The Police Bill Alliance engaged APPGs, Select Committees, UN Special Rapporteurs, parliamentarians from all parties, businesses, and former police chiefs. It secured high profile op-eds and substantial media coverage. It gathered over 800,000 signatories for public actions which, alongside mass mobilisation from social movements, helped mitigate some of the worst impacts on protest and Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities.

awards

Liberty poster sent to all MPs urging them to vote against the Bill (March 2021)

It’s brilliant that this campaign is being shortlisted. The most notable thing was the collaborative spirit that organisations managed to sustain over a long period. Putting organisational ego to one side and focusing on the change they could achieve together without worrying about who was taking credit.”

awards

Liberty poster sent to all MPs urging them to vote against the Bill (March 2021)

It’s brilliant that this campaign is being shortlisted. The most notable thing was the collaborative spirit that organisations managed to sustain over a long period. Putting organisational ego to one side and focusing on the change they could achieve together without worrying about who was taking credit.”

The Change

The campaign led to an extraordinary fourteen defeats for the Government in the House of Lords. It lost nearly every one of the anti-protest measures it tried to add to the Bill through late amendments, including protest-related stop and search and Serious Disruption Prevention Orders (AKA ‘Protest Banning Orders’).

The Government also lost votes on amendments to remove or weaken anti-protest measures already in the Bill, such as powers to impose noise-based restrictions on protest or the ability for the police to place restrictions on one-person protests. It should be noted that significant elements of the Act remained untouched and became law when the Bill received Royal Ascent.

The Police Bill Alliance raised significant awareness about how the legislation would impact on protests and Gypsy Roma and Traveller (GRT) Communities, encouraging a huge array of organisations to stand in solidarity with them. Without the Alliance the Bill would have been far worse.

The Future

Much of what was removed from the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act has sadly now returned in the Public Order Bill. Many of the organisations who were mobilised over the Policing Bill are continuing to work together to oppose this new Bill.

Who else was involved?

The PBA core group was made up of Liberty, Quakers, Bond, Friends of the Earth, and Friends, Families and Travellers. They were supported by three consultants who provided specialist support to the Alliance: Kathleen Christie (coordination), Jessica Metheringham (parliamentary) and Kevin Keith (communications).

 The PBA had around 100 active members, plus a further 350 civil society organisations and 200 businesses who undertook various campaign actions.

 In addition, while not directly involved in the PBA, activists across the country who continued to protest under Kill The Bill share in the credit.