This new government Bill is the biggest attack on our rights to free speech and protest that we have seen in a generation. The wording of this proposed law could criminalise people simply because the police or the Government think they are annoying. We cannot overstate how dangerous this could be in the wrong hands.
We have to be vigilant to maintain our democracy, limiting protests could put us on a slippery slope to authoritarianism.
The tragic death of Sarah Everard, and the serious mishandling of the vigils held by women this past weekend, shows the urgency with which we need to act. We need to centre the voices of those in the communities impacted by these events. We should not be handing more opportunities for over-policing.
This is why I believe we need a 'Police Service' rather than a 'Police Force'. The police should be an integral part of the communities they serve to protect. Not at the whim of orders to use draconian powers against those communities.
The Liberal Democrats will always protect human rights and challenge the notion that longer prison sentences are always the answer. The focus of police and the criminal justice system must be on the prevention and solving of crime rather than just punishing the small numbers eventually brought to court.
I am proud, as a Liberal Democrat, to have been leading the opposition against this bill, and will continue to uphold freedom of speech, protest and democracy.