Bill is a move towards a police state - letter in Camden New Journal

27 November, 2020

TOM Foot’s (November 19) report of the Undercover Policing Inquiry highlighted police surveillance in Camden.

Women are giving evidence about abusive sexual relationships with police spies, and the Lawrence family about infiltration to discredit their justice campaign after Stephen’s racist murder, as were many other families of colour, and Hillsborough survivors.

Pre-empting the outcome of the inquiry, the government is pushing through the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill, known as “spy cops”, which would legalise covert operations and hugely increase police powers.

The bill has been called a licence to kill as it would enable agents and informants to rape, torture and even murder with impunity.

Worse still, these powers over life and death would be granted not only for national security but to protect the “economic interests” of the UK.

Anyone protesting against injustice, the climate emergency, zero-hours contracts, arms sales… could be targeted by the state and its corporate friends.

Opposition is growing. Over 50 organisations signed our statement (CHIS Bill – Spy Cops – in the House of Lords), including the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, the Psychotherapy and Counselling Union, groups from the Black Lives Matter movement, the Global Justice Bloc (which came out of XR), Nanas UK who oppose fracking, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities).

Women in particular are alarmed at the criminal impunity introduced in this bill while depriving victims of any defence or recourse.

This is at a time when rape and domestic violence have de facto been decriminalised – less than 1 per cent of reported rapes reach conviction.

Even children can be used as spies which Just for Kids Law points out endangers their lives and causes lifelong trauma.

This bill is a significant departure from natural justice and towards a police state.

To the disgust of many, Sir Keir Starmer whipped Labour to abstain rather than oppose it. We must count on the Lords to defend all our human rights: they are debating the bill this week and on December 1.

Get in touch if you want to help.

SELMA JAMES, Global Women’s Strike
SARA CALLAWAY, Women of Colour GWS
NINA LOPEZ, Legal Action for Women
LISA LONGSTAFF, Women Against Rape
Based at Crossroads Women’s Centre, Camden NW5