[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

Let me make some progress; I have taken a number of interventions.

I come to the police covenant and frontline police officers across the country. Like the Home Secretary, I meet the chair of the Police Federation and work with him on a regular basis. Only in recent days, I met my local officers in Gwent—virtually, of course—with hon. Friends and listened to the work that they are doing. It is clear that throughout this pandemic frontline officers are putting themselves at risk to keep us safe, but across the board, frontline workers in the police, fire service, education and so many other areas are facing a pay freeze. Their efforts in this pandemic are being rewarded with a real-terms pay cut.

The police covenant is welcome but overdue—it is in this Bill, some three years after it was promised. It is right that the Home Secretary makes an annual report to Parliament, addressing key issues on physical protection, health and wellbeing, and support for families, but we will study this provision closely, in consultation with representatives from across policing. We will be arguing for protections including support for mental health, which is too often overlooked.

I turn to the toughening of sentences for those who cause death by dangerous driving. My hon. Friend Stephanie Peacock deserves great credit for securing these changes, together with other right hon. and hon. Members who signed the Bill introduced by the former Prime Minister, Mrs May, last year. They included my hon. Friends the Members for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis), for St Helens South and Whiston (Ms Rimmer) and for Bradford South (Judith Cummins), together with MPs from a number of parties. We support those proposals; too many people have taken lives and left families heartbroken, with insufficient punishment—that has to end.

On the extension of laws that prevent adults in positions of trust from engaging in sexual relationships with young people under 18, sports coaches and faith leaders should be included in those safeguards. I give great credit here to my hon. Friend Sarah Champion, with others, including Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Tracey Crouch. I am sure everyone from across the House would send her our very best wishes.