[1st Allocated Day]

Part of Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:21 pm on 15th March 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Nick Thomas-Symonds Nick Thomas-Symonds Shadow Home Secretary 6:21 pm, 15th March 2021

I do absolutely support that and I will come to it in a moment but, to deal with the first part of the hon. Gentleman’s question, he seemed to imply that I did not understand the value of war memorials. I absolutely do. The difference is that this Bill has now been extended to every form of memorial, including statues of slave traders. It really sums up the problem with the Government’s approach. If they genuinely wanted to introduce proportionate measures to protect war memorials, they could have done so and not introduced the measures that they actually have.

I come to the sentencing elements of the Bill. It is of course right to extend whole-life orders to cover the premeditated murder of a child. The tragic murder of Ellie Gould on 3 May 2019 highlights the failure of the justice system to impose strict enough sentences on those who murder in a domestic setting and the issue of the age of the killer. But this measure is insufficient. The current approach to sentencing seems to forget the context in which many female victims are killed—in the home, with a weapon taken from that location. The minimum tariff in such cases is 15 years, but it is 25 if the weapon is brought to the scene of the crime. That is a systemic problem; violence against women and girls seems to be seen as less serious than other forms of violence. This has to be addressed.

The Opposition also say that tougher sentencing on its own is not enough. We know that wider change across our society is needed, and we know that the Government who have decimated our public services over the past 11 years have totally lost sight of addressing the causes of crime as well, with the sadly predictable consequences of rising violent crime in every single police force area of England and Wales. The Bill is shamefully short of measures to address the unacceptable violence women and girls face. In that, it fails woefully to meet the urgent need for change.