Priti Patel approves ban on ‘harmful’ anti-vaxxer protests at schools

Anti-vaxxers will be banned from “harmful and disruptive” protests outside schools and vaccination clinics after 普里蒂·帕特尔(Priti Patel) accepted an amendment to a bill due to be debated in parliament this week.

An opposition motion to grant councils the power to take tougher action to dispel anti-vaxx campaigners was passed by peers in the 上议院 上个月. 在星期一, the home secretary signalled that she would not seek to strike out the amendment when the police, 犯罪, sentencing and courts bill returns to the Commons this week.

The bill is undergoing “ping-pong”, whereby changes to the proposed legislation are debated by each house until MPs and peers come to an agreement.

Patel will also table her own amendment, requiring a report on the nature and prevalence of “spiking” to be produced by the government. The practice has been a particular concern of ministers in light of warnings that drink and drug spiking have reached “epidemic” levels in the UK. Recent evidence submitted to the home affairs select committee showed that up to 15% of women and 7% of men had been spiked with alcohol or drugs.

An amendment by Lord Coaker, a Labour peer, requires a similar report and has already been passed, but Patel will not accept it because she says it is too narrow, in that it only covers incidents related to sexual assault.

It is understood that the home secretary believes spiking can facilitate other crimes, so the new amendment – expected to be published on Monday – will open up the review behind the report to encompass other concerns about spiking.

Patel urged MPs to back the bill in votes later this week. She said it was “vitally important” to help “overhaul the criminal justice system and make our streets safer”, 添加: “It must be passed soon so that we can continue to cut crime, reduce violence and protect women and girls.”

But Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said crime was rising, prosecutions were falling and despite numerous government U-turns still major steps were still needed “to keep communities safe”.

She accused Patel of refusing to make violence against women and girls a strategic policing requirement – giving it the same prominence as tackling organised crime – and of opposing establishing specialist rape units in every police force area and minimum sentences for rape and stalking.

Cooper added: “Too often under the Tories, criminals are getting away with it and victims are being let down.”