The policing bill is a bonfire of our liberties – spare us the outrage over the Bristol protests

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Monday 22 March 2021 19:39
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Bristol riot: Police clash with protesters at ‘Kill the Bill’ rally

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is an oppressive piece of legislation which puts draconian restrictions on the right to protest, will expand the powers of the police to “stop and search” and criminalises the Traveller and Roma community.

Even Priti Patel should have realised that such a severe attack on civil liberties would be resisted. The assault on those at the peaceful vigil for Sarah Everard at Clapham Common was a stark warning as to the probable consequences of giving the police even more powers.

So spare us the outrage over the anti-policing bill riots in Bristol. The burning of a police van is a small thing compared to a bonfire of liberties.

Sasha Simic

London N16

These rioters will play into the hands of those who seek to restrict freedoms, those whose recent track record in regards to the Snoopers’ Charter and more recent Spycops Bill points to a worrying trend in legislation.

If the current bill passes, we should all watch closely how the Johnson administration eyes other legislation, such as the Human Rights Act.

Ian Henderson

Norwich

I absolutely condemn the violence in Bristol, but to hear Priti Patel’s confected outrage is utterly sickening. It is her bill that has provoked the opposition. A classic tactic is to first provoke, creating a situation to which people react badly, and then claim this proves that the repressive anti-democratic laws which caused the reaction are required.

The bill is oppressive and anti-democratic, but to oppose it with violence is simply playing into the hands of those in government who seek to manipulate us for their own ends.

Arthur Streatfield

Bath

Behaviour by the unruly crowd in Bristol is yet another symptom of the government’s failure to ensure morals are a fundamental element of education in our nation’s schools, and underline the deterioration in our democracy due to the sidelining of Christian faith and principles in society.

J Longstaff

East Sussex

End of life care

Exactly a year since the UK was sent into the first lockdown, we have seen more than 60,000 excess deaths at home. That’s more than 1,000 additional people dying in their homes every week, compared to pre-Covid times. It is worth noting that fewer than 8,000 of these were due to Covid-19.

As noted by Clea Skopeliti (19 March), the UK has recorded the second-highest excess death rate for under-65s in Europe. This raises an important question about people’s experience of death at home. What are they dying from? And did they have the right pain relief and end of life care?

Research shows a common preference for people to be in their own home when they die, but the concern here is the rate of growth of deaths at home, and the capacity of the health and social care system to respond to this need, as the sector continues to be stretched to its limit.

On average, the latest data shows that more than 1,000 additional people have died at home every week compared to five-year rates. Hospice UK’s Dying Matters campaign has found that there is very little evidence about the quality of these deaths, and whether the right care and support was in place. The UK has changed in many ways in the past year, and this is one trend that we’re yet to begin to understand.

What we do know is that even before the pandemic, there has been a longer-term shift towards more people dying at home. We must therefore make sure that both society, and the health and social care system, are ready to adapt.

Imogen Thomas

Campaign manager, Dying Matters

Caveat emptor over Brexit?

On Sunday, Ben Wallace, secretary of state for defence, said that the EU stands for the rule of law and that both it and the UK should live up to their contractual obligations on the supply of vaccines. Furthermore, he added that “the EU knows the world is watching”.

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Wise words indeed. Can we therefore assume that he would apply these same standards to his prime minister and cabinet colleagues regarding the Northern Ireland protocol? As his colleague Robert Jenrick infamously said in a different context last month: caveat emptor. Johnson “bought” the Brexit deal, so he needs to stick to its terms however much he may now not like them.

The same applies to the vaccine contracts for all parties. The UK’s vaccine programme is going incredibly well, but it is not the time for either party to engage in petty tribalism, point scoring or broken commitments on this subject or any other. On the contrary, all nations need to work together against a common threat. The world is indeed watching.

Charles Wood

Birmingham

Syria 10 years on

Borzou Daragahi describes the seething cauldron of toxic complexities that has been the situation in Syria for the last decade (How Syria’s disinformation war has reshaped our world, 21 March).

Since the initial uprising against the regime of Bashar al-Assad by the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), I cannot remember any commentators suggesting that the invasion of Iraq instigated by George W Bush and Tony Blair based on the “dodgy dossier” regarding non-existent weapons of mass destruction may have made any further western meddling in Middle Eastern affairs seem politically unacceptable.

The FSA appealed for western help at the time but were ignored, even though Assad’s hold on power was fairly tenuous at the time. Instead of western help, the vacuum was filled by a variety of actors including Isis, none of whom had the liberation of Syria’s people as a motivating force.

The west still lives with the legacy of ignoring the initial plea of the FSA in the form of Islamic terror threats while the Syrian people are living under appalling conditions.

One wonders if the US and UK had not invaded Iraq, their respective populations might have been more receptive to direct involvement to aid the FSA in toppling Assad and creating a democratic Syria rather than the present quagmire.

Patrick Cleary

Gloucestershire

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