'I am proud of the work done to keep us safe'
Column by MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham, Caroline Johnson
This Government was elected on a manifesto commitment to keep our country safe and protect the most vulnerable in our society. I am proud of the work that has be done to deliver on this commitment that has seen a number of bills passed recently including the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill, the Domestic Abuse Bill and Animal Welfare Sentencing Bill, which promise to do just that.
Following the attack in Streatham, the Government introduced emergency legislation into law to ensure that terrorist offenders, including those currently serving, will no longer be released early automatically. I welcome that this has been followed up with the introduction of the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill.
This bill will ensure that the sentences served by terrorists reflect the severity of their offences, reducing the threat posed to the public by keeping dangerous terrorists in custody for longer, with tools for monitoring them in the community also strengthened. Furthermore for prisoners who become a danger to the public during their sentence - having been radicalised while in prison and now present a terror threat - new powers will be put in place to ensure these offenders can not be released without being assessed as safe by Parole Board experts.
For many individuals sadly the greatest threat to their safety comes not from outside threats but within their own homes. Domestic abuse is an abhorrent crime and as a Consultant Paediatrician I have seen first hand the emotional harm suffered by child witnesses to domestic abuse. The Domestic Abuse Bill ensures that children are fully recognised as victims along with their parents, and also means that people fleeing domestic abuse are eligible for priority status when seeking accommodation. This will make a big difference to those with children in particular, ensuring that they are not stuck in unsuitable temporary accommodation for long periods of time.
Finally there is no place in this country for animal cruelty and we must ensure those who abuse animals are met with the full force of the law. I am therefore pleased that the Animal Welfare Sentencing Bill has now become law. This new legislation will enable tougher prison sentences for the most serious perpetrators of animal cruelty, from the previous maximum of six months to up to five years. The maximum five-year sentence will be one of the toughest punishments in
Europe, strengthening the UK’s position as a global leader on animal welfare.
Despite a challenging year I am pleased that the Government has been able to make progress on its legislative agenda - introducing tougher sentencing whilst ensuring greater protection for the victims of crime. As we begin a new Parliament I look forward to working with my parliamentary colleagues to ensure we continue to deliver for the people of this country.