Should parenting be policed?
A recent amendment to the Children and Families Bill will allow the government to make it a criminal offence for drivers to fail to prevent smoking in their vehicle if children are present.
By Chereece Mark
The government has described the amendment as “protecting children” and will allow them to empower, but not enforce, this proposal in England.
A majority of MPs voted in favour of the ban with 376 votes to 107. The offence would only apply to under-18s as 18 is the legal age to buy cigarettes.
A £60 charge has been proposed for the smoking offence but nothing has been fully decided as of yet.
Many are questioning how the police can monitor this ban and does the state have enough resources to enforce it?
A large number of MPs have argued that the limited resources available will not see this ban as a high priority risk due to short staffing and time restrictions.
If a charge reaches the Crown Prosecution Service, they will be provided with evidence by way of a witness statement. However, if this is contested the matter will lead to a hearing, which will be an additional problem for the courts to keep up with creating costs and clogging up the system.
Nonetheless, In support of this decision Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, a former president of the Royal Society of Medicine, said: “A child in the back seat is effectively imprisoned in the vehicle for their own safety. Whatever adults do they have no control over.”
This issue has divided political parties and has sparked an intense debate concerning public health and individual freedom. What do you think?
Chereece Mark is a third year law student at the University of Kent and has an interest in family law.