How we keep our communities safe must be based on reducing harm and tackling the root causes of anti-social behaviour.
Sex work is work – what someone must do for a living does not define who they are. We will decriminalise sex work and oppose any attempts to introduce the Nordic Model, which has made conditions more dangerous for workers in the countries where it has been introduced. With better worker protections following from decriminalisation, sex workers will be empowered to report illegal activity without fear of prosecution. This means that decriminalising sex work will make it easier to find and prosecute human traffickers.
We recognise the effectiveness of harm-reduction approaches to sex work, including distribution of safer sex materials, anonymous testing services, and street outreach. Instead of criminalising those who engage in sex work, we will focus on their rights, health, safety, and wellbeing. Enforcing workers’ rights protections will make sex workers safer and stop unwilling or underage participants from being forced into this line of work.
Cannabis and Public Health
We will legalise cannabis for sale to anyone over the age of 18, with shops dispensing recreational cannabis subject to an accessible licensing scheme similar to that under which alcohol sales are currently licensed. A condition of licence will be that these shops will need to carry public health information on managing the personal risks of cannabis consumption. We will remove restrictions on the use of medicinal cannabis to allow GPs to prescribe it to those whose conditions would medically benefit from it.
Any antisocial behaviour resulting from cannabis consumption will be managed in the same way as antisocial behaviour resulting from alcohol consumption. Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is addressed in the Road Traffic Act 1988; all driving under the influence offences will remain as-is.
We believe that illegal substance use is a public health issue rather than a criminal matter. We will decriminalise drugs other than cannabis by repealing the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, introducing appropriate legislative measures to restrict illicit production. Our decriminalisation framework will also include harm reduction policies such as safe consumption rooms, testing services, and addiction rehabilitation services.
We will fund research into the use of psychoactive substances in mental health treatments. We will also liberalise research into psychoactive substances by universities and research institutions through a notification system, rather than a permit and approval system.
We will fund organisations that provide shelter, counselling, and other forms of support to all survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. We will encourage such organisations to provide help to people in need regardless of their gender (but with sensitively considered segregation where appropriate). No one should be trapped in an unsafe situation because they don’t have the resources to leave.
Police Regulation and Criminal Justice
The police should not be grading their own work. We will make the police accountable by removing responsibilities for police oversight from Police and Crime Commissioners and creating a post whose specific remit is to monitor the police. We will create local police monitoring boards recruiting from the communities that they are policing, and we will empower these boards to review police performance and propose reforms.
The authority of the police should not rest with individual officers. We will ban police officers from making lone arrests, while permitting them to detain suspects in their present location until other officers arrive. This will prevent abuse of the power to arrest.
We will ban the use of restraining equipment such as tasers and restraint hoods: too many people have died from the police’s use of these devices. The police have shown they are too willing to employ less-than-lethal equipment outside of physical altercations to force compliance where it is unnecessary and inappropriate.
We will bar the police from accessing data without a warrant. Information held by third parties such as schools, the NHS, and employers should not be freely available to the police where there is no legal basis for suspicion of an offence. Such open access damages our privacy and discourages people in difficult situations from accessing institutions for fear of the police.
We will vote against any expansion of police powers, including those proposed in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. We will review the expansion of police powers during the Covid-19 pandemic: additional powers were given to the police to deal with this unique situation and should not become permanent.
We will oppose the creation of new “mega-prisons” by refusing them planning permission. Large-scale prisons negatively affect the communities around them and institutionalise prisoners, which encourages reoffense. We will transform our prison system by focusing on meaningful rehabilitation that reintegrates offenders and connects them with their communities so that they have something to lose if they reoffend. Because healthcare is a human right, we will ensure that all prisoners have full access to healthcare, including pre- and post- natal support for pregnant prisoners.
We will raise the minimum age a person can be tried as an adult to sixteen. It is not right that children as young as ten years old are assumed to have the same responsibility for their actions as fully mature adults. We will also restrict the military's ability to actively recruit young people, particularly those in schools.
We demand that vaccine patents be waived so that they can be produced globally where they are needed most. To bring the pandemic to an end, it is vital that the rest of the world has equal access to vaccines and the infrastructure to distribute them.
We will oppose the imposition of any government surveillance to monitor or enforce vaccine status. This is unnecessary, and likely to be most threatening to minority communities.
We will reintroduce free, publicly funded testing for Covid-19 and recognise NHS Covid tests as valid for travel purposes. Private companies and contractors have no place making a profit from our Covid response, and no one should be ripped off just for travelling, or to make sure they can safely visit friends and family.
During acute outbreaks, we will reinstate mandatory face masking in public places to slow the spread of Covid-19 and protect lives. To protect our children and ourselves we will institute upgrades to ventilation in schools and other public buildings to make them safe, with mandatory risk assessments on capacity. We will enforce workplace safety in all industries, working in partnership with unions. We oppose granting police additional powers to enforce any restrictions or mitigation measures: we believe any additional powers are unnecessary and open to abuse.