The Public Order Bill puts the law-abiding majority first - Home Secretary Priti Patel

From Day One, this Government has put the safety and interests of the law-abiding majority first.

We have put 13,500 more police on the streets, including 1,310 in the greater Yorkshire region, and we are on track to reach 20,000 by next March.

Conservatives understand that if you are going to cut crime, level up the country and make sure people feel safe in their homes, on public transport, and on the street, we need to back our police officers.

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That means giving them all the powers and tools they need to fight crime and protect the public. This was one of the main purposes of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, which Labour voted against.

Priti Patel. Picture: PA.Priti Patel. Picture: PA.
Priti Patel. Picture: PA.
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Public safety also requires proper investment, which is why we are funding the police to the tune of almost £17bn this year.

It’s why, as Home Secretary, I have consistently directed more support to the parts of the country that suffer disproportionately from crime. This effort has been supported by the creation of our Violence Reduction Units network and through hotspot policing.

We are also helping the police tackle violence against women and girls through major investment in more CCTV and street lighting.

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Recently, I announced that I am strengthening stop and search powers, because stop and search is vital to get knives off our streets and save lives.

More than 50,000 weapons have been removed since 2019 already, each one potentially representing a life saved. I have also authorised Special Constables to carry and use Tasers.

And we are getting results. Our criminal justice system has convicted 141,000 more criminals in the last year than the previous year.

Average jail time for serious criminals has increased by almost four months. But we will never be complacent. Convictions for rape are up by 67 per cent, but they remain far too low.

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I have told every chief constable that the quality of investigations into sex attacks needs to improve, as do working relationships between police and prosecutors.

The police service also needs to keep up with an increase in digital evidence.

Recently we have seen a rise in criminal, disruptive, and self-defeating protest tactics from a supremely selfish minority in groups like Extinction Rebellion.

They divert police resources away from the communities where they are most needed to prevent serious violence and neighbourhood crime. Parts of the country have ground to a halt.

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Transport networks have been closed off, printing presses blocked, and fuel supplies disrupted.

Shamefully, people have even been prevented from getting to hospital.

This is reprehensible behaviour and I will not tolerate it.

However passionately one believes in a cause, we do not make policy through mob rule in this country.

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We have measures in the new Public Order Bill to let the police intervene when protests will bring misery to people who want to go about their lives free from molestation.

It will become a criminal offence for people intentionally to cause pandemonium by locking themselves on to busy roads, buildings, or scaffolding.

The Bill gives the police powers to stop and search activists and seize their equipment, in order to prevent disruption from happening in the first place.

We are also strengthening the integrity of our transport networks, oil terminals, and printing presses by making it a criminal offence to interfere with key national infrastructure.

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For the relentless few determined to keep breaking the law, the courts can slap them with a Serious Disruption Prevention Order. If they breach it that could mean six months in prison.

Many of these measures were in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, but were blocked in the House of Lords.

But the Government is squarely with the law-abiding majority, which is why we have brought them forward again in the Public Order Bill.

Inevitably, Labour oppose the Bill.

As ever, they are weak on crime and weak on the causes of crime, caring only about the rights of criminals.

It is not only criminals who have rights.

The public needs Parliament to put the law-abiding majority first. And that means backing the Public Order Bill.