Bridgwater Labour Anger at Tory Police Bill

Monday, 15 March 2021
Irena Hubble-Brezowski Chair of Bridgwater Branch Labour Party

Newly elected Bridgwater Branch Labour Party  Chair Irena Hubble-Brezowski has launched an attack on the Tory Government’s new Police bill. Irena says “Over the last week two serious events have hit the headlines. Both have grave implications for  the  future of our society and how we deal with crime, misogyny and protest. .Firstly the kidnapping and murder of a young woman, followed by the heavy handed policing of a vigil event for the victim on Clapham Common yesterday. Women feel concern about their safety and wish to express solidarity with each other and have been  prevented from doing so. If  Priti Patel’s  Bill going through Parliament  were to become law  – the implications for our safety do not improve. In fact we are potentially more vulnerable. This Bill is set to give police more powers and to criminalise protest – giving protestors a jail sentence of up to 10 years – for causing ‘annoyance’ or severe disruption – as happened with Extinction Rebellion protests last year.”

David Lammy MP, Labour’s shadow justice secretary said it was ‘ no time to be rushing through  poorly thought-out  measures to impose disproportionate controls on free expression’. Irena adds “Stopping this Bill is of paramount importance. Whether we are in lockdown or not,  we all have the right to feel safe on our streets and we need a police force who will police whilst being aware of diversity and inclusion for all genders, races. No-one says this is going to be easy but giving powers for more draconian force only gives the potential for people to become angrier. The actions on Saturday have been ‘explained ‘ by the fact that restrictions have been broken- although organisers worked hard to organise a COVID -19 safe environment, before the Police decided not to allow the protest to go ahead. When we are not under restrictions, this Bill would be an infringement of civil liberties. We cannot let this happen  under the guise of safety. The Labour Party is voting against this Bill. It is the only course of action”

Police and Crime Commissioner’s Position

Labour candidate for Avon and Somerset PCC Kerry Barker

Labour’s candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in Avon and Somerset, Kerry Barker, supports Irena’s position and says “This is an area in which Avon & Somerset Police are particularly poor because despite the current PCC’s focus on victim support and domestic violence the performance of the police has deteriorated badly. In 2012 the number of violent and sexual offences reported to the police in Avon and Somerset was 17,968.  Of those 8,388 were detected – a detection rate of 47%.  (2012 was the year that the current Police and Crime Commissioner was first elected and appointed John Smith, her current deputy, as her Chief Executive Officer.) In 2019 (the last normal year before the pandemic struck) the number of violent and sexual offences had gone up to 47,656.  Of those only 5,630 were detected – a detection rate of just 12%.”Kerry continues “These very poor results were due not only to the cuts imposed by the Tory and Coalition governments but also the strategies adopted in Avon & Somerset in relation to detective teams and specialisms, centralisation (the closing of police stations) and the diminution of local or community policing.  The current Deputy PCC and candidate, John Smith was at the heart of those strategic changes.”

Kerry Barker is committed to;-

  • strengthen community policing with more officers who live and work in the areas for which they are responsible.  Police officers (not community support officers) who know their local people and who are known by their local people.
  • stop the closure of police stations
  • bring back and strengthen specialist detective teams, such as burglary teams and sexual assault teams
  • Improving the welfare and safety of women will be the focus for each of those commitments.