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Protection of Freedoms Bill

Part of Resource Extraction (Transparency and Reporting) – in the House of Commons at 6:12 pm on 1st March 2011.

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Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Shadow Home Secretary, Shadow Minister (Equalities Office) (Women and Equalities) 6:12 pm, 1st March 2011

My hon. Friend raises an important point. If these restrictions go through and make it harder for the police to solve serious crimes, the Home Secretary will have to explain to the victims of crime and those who are worried about serious crimes and offences why she has chosen to draw the line where she has, and to strike the balance in a way that will mean that more victims will not get the justice that they deserve and that we have a responsibility to pursue on their behalf.

Protecting freedom means getting the balance right. It means protecting the freedom of victims as well as protecting everyone else from unnecessary suspicion or interference. It means making sure that there are safeguards, checks and balances that protect people’s freedoms and protect the innocent. It also means making sure that the police have the tools they need to fight and prevent crime that hurts innocent people.

In reality, what are the Home Secretary and her Government doing? Their record on protecting freedoms and ensuring checks and balances is a mass of confusion and contradiction that makes a mockery of their rhetoric: new powers of confiscation for local councils; restrictions on protest in Parliament square and powers for non-warranted officers to move people on physically; substantial powers over the police concentrated in the hands of a single politician—the police commissioner; and a populist assault on the courts and the Human Rights Act, which play an important role in preventing arbitrary state power. The Government are not putting in place checks and balances or protecting freedoms. At the same time, they are making it harder, not easier, for the police to fight crime and bring offenders to justice—through restrictions on DNA, loopholes in child protection, weakening the sex offenders register, ending antisocial behaviour orders, weakening control orders and by having more than 10,000 fewer police officers thanks to the 20% front-loaded cuts. That is not a good list.

The Bill does not do what it says on the tin. It does not deliver a fundamental change in the protection of freedom for the innocent, and it does not protect the freedom of victims. The Home Secretary has given in to the rhetoric of the Deputy Prime Minister and she will be judged by the reality of her decisions today. She is getting some of those decisions wrong.