Stop the Criminal Justice Bill!

The Criminal Justice Bill is the biggest attack on our freedoms in public spaces in a decade. It must be stopped at all costs.

If this Bill is passed…

1. A senior police officer will be able to ban activities in public spaces.

The Criminal Justice Bill allows the police to make Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) – broad-brush legal orders that ban or restrict activities in public spaces. There is no legal obligation to carry out a public consultation. Currently only local authorities use these powers, and as democratically elected bodies they generally feel obliged to consult and listen to public concerns. The police wouldn’t feel any such obligation. The Criminal Justice Bill would allow the police to introduce laws for their own convenience, without consulting the public.

2. On-the-spot legal orders will be issued to children still in primary school.

The Criminal Justice Bill would allow Community Protection Notices (CPNs) – on-the-spot legal orders – to be issued to children as young as 10. These orders can impose significant restrictions on a person’s freedom, such as a ban on entering certain areas or seeing certain people. There is no legal aid or advice for appeals, and educated adults often struggle to defend themselves against these orders. Children are completely unequipped to deal with these blank-cheque notices, where all the power is stacked with the prosecution.

3. ‘Busybody’ penalties would increase from £100 to £500.

Penalties for violating Public Spaces Protection Orders or Community Protection Notices would rise by 400% to £500. There are currently over 2000 PSPOs, banning activities such as loitering, swearing, begging, wild swimming, busking and feeding birds. In 2022 there were 13,443 on-the-spot penalties for breaching a PSPO. If the Criminal Justice Bill passes, anodyne actions will be punished by a grossly out-of-proportion penalty. Many PSPO penalties are issued by private companies who are paid a portion of every fine, which creates incentives for them to issue as many fines as possible.

4. Homeless people could be imprisoned for failing to leave an area when directed.

Under new ‘nuisance rough sleeping’ powers, police and council officers could order a homeless person to leave an area for three days, and if they don’t they could be imprisoned for a month and fined £2500 pounds. There are no rights to appeal directions to leave an area. Indeed, the Criminal Justice Bill contains no fewer than six new powers specifically targeting homeless people (nuisance rough sleeping and nuisance begging directions, notices and orders). Notices can be issued if they or someone in their group ‘does something that is a nuisance’. These new powers will erode homeless people’s rights and even put their lives at risk, if they are barred from areas in which they are able to obtain food and shelter.

5. Any person could be dispersed from any public place for three days.

Amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill will allow police and local authority officers to bar any person from any public place for up to three days. Currently only the police can use dispersal powers for up to 48 hours, and only in specific areas temporarily authorised by a senior police officer. The dispersal amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill remove the need for this authorisation: it would turn the whole country into a ‘dispersal zone’, meaning that any police or council officer could (at their discretion) bar any person from any public place for three days. If this amendment passes, there would be no de facto right to be in a public space.

What you can do….

* Spread the word about the Bill on social media. Retweet or post about our campaign on Twitter/X or Facebook.

* Write to your MP and ask them to challenge the measures in the Bill.

* Get in touch if you want to help organise opposition to the Bill in your area.

* Sign up to get campaign updates.

* Donate to support the campaign.

Read on….

* See media coverage of our campaign in the Daily Mail, Spectator, Sun, Birmingham Mail, and spiked.

* Read our Briefing on the Criminal Justice Bill.

* Read our submissions to the Public Bills Committee and Human Rights Committee.

* See more information about Community Protection Notices and Public Spaces Protection Orders.