• David Williams

Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill

A number of people have asked me what my views are on the proposed Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill.

280 words is not enough to do this topic justice. However, here is my brief take on it.

Some aspects of the bill are positive and to be welcomed; for example proposals for problem solving courts and increased thresholds for the remand of children.

However, as a general observation I am deeply uncomfortable how the bill appears to have been framed. In my view too much of it smacks of political expedient with insufficient attention given to potentially unintended consequences.

Increased powers for the police in respect of protests is too loosely framed, open to levels of discretion and interpretation which would be confusing and place police officers in the invidious position of potentially determining aspects of civil liberties; this would be wrong.

Equally, lengthening of some prison sentences needs to be viewed in the wider context of pressures on the criminal justice system and what works. Increased criminalisation could well be counterproductive and the courts are already broken.

Recently too much of what the current government has legislated for appears to have stemmed from a narrow ideological perspective without due consideration of related issues and unintended (I hope) consequences. This flawed approach has been highlighted sufficiently by others, including MPs, for me to hope that Parliament itself will in future ensure that we do not have any further instances of bad law arrived at on the basis of inadequate scrutiny and review.

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