THE LAW Courts are to get new police state powers to be used against striking trade unionists and protesting workers.
The powers will stop the blocking of Britain’s motorways, Home Secretary Patel said yesterday, while Justice Minister Raab promised the Conservative Party conference to find £183m to double the number of offenders in England and Wales on electronic tags by 2025.
In a Tory law and order blitz, Patel revealed that Criminal Disruption Prevention Orders will be used to isolate people with a ‘history of disruption’ or those likely to commit a crime.
Patel announced an increase in the maximum sentence for disruption of a motorway and a new criminal offence of interfering with critical national infrastructures such as roads, railways and newspaper printing presses. These will all be used against trade unions!
Police are also to be given wider stop and search powers.
The new measures are in the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill currently going through Parliament.
The new Criminal Disruption Prevention Orders will ‘give the courts the power to prevent an individual with a history of disruption, or where there is intelligence suggesting they are likely to commit a criminal offence, from attending particular protests’.
Matt Parr, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, said yesterday: ‘Our report said that the balance that police are obliged to strike between people’s rights to protest have to be balanced with the rights and freedoms of others and we thought the balance needed a reset. I think it swung too much in favour of protests.’
Meanwhile, Dominic Raab used his first speech as the new Justice Secretary to promise £183m to double the number of offenders in England and Wales on electronic tags by 2025. He will also pledge £90m to pay for more hours of community ‘payback’ by offenders. Raab said: ‘Making our communities safer, so that women can walk home at night without having to look over their shoulder – as Justice Secretary, that’s my number one priority.’
Raab has vowed to ‘overhaul’ the Human Rights Act to ‘restore common sense’ to the justice system. Those ordered to carry out unpaid work by a court will be required to clean hundreds of miles of towpaths under an agreement with the Canal and River Trust, according to reports.
Raab also confirmed he will double the number of prisoners on tags in a bid to cut reoffending rates. Separately, thousands of criminals leaving prison will be made to wear devices that can monitor alcohol intake.
However, he is not planning action against the Metropolitan Police or to totally disband that body, which has been recruiting people with criminal records, and has earned the right to be described officially as both ‘institutionally racist and institutionally corrupt.’
Meanwhile, according to Unite, which represents tens of thousands of UK lorry drivers, the Department for Transport (DfT) has admitted in correspondence to the union that ‘there is not an impact assessment’ of the ongoing extension to the maximum number of hours a lorry driver can drive.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The government’s admission that it has not assessed the road safety ramifications of persistent longer hours for lorry drivers is shocking. HGV drivers and road users can be rightly angry about ministers’ failure to take their safety seriously.’
Unite again raised concerns about driver safety after it was confirmed that drivers will continue to be allowed to drive for additional hours until the end of this month (October) with the expectation this will continue until the end of January. Drivers can now drive for up to 11 hours a day (compared to the normal maximum of 10 hours) and a total of 99 hours a fortnight (previously 90), with rest periods also reduced.
Unite has warned that by extending driving hours, workers are at increased risk of fatigue – and the longer the period when driving hours are increased the greater the cumulative effect of fatigue. Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: ‘Drivers are already exhausted, and as we enter late autumn and winter, when driving conditions are poorer, the danger of accidents will inevitably increase.’
The issue is plain. Lorry drivers are being driven into the ground by the Tory government, which is now bringing in massive cuts to try to breathe life into bankrupt capitalism, as well as police state powers that can be used against the trade unions.
Unite and the TUC must take action! They must organise a general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers’ government and socialism. This is the only policy that will liberate millions of workers and youth from the prospect of massive cuts, closures and price rises that the Tory government is preparing.