PCC statement on Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill introduced to Parliament today
9th March 2021
Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), responding on the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill introduced to Parliament today TUE 9 Mar) commented:
“Today the Government has introduced a long awaited Policing, Crime and Justice Bill into Parliament which is expected to secure Royal Assent towards the end of the year or even into 2022.
“Along with fellow PCCs and West Yorkshire MPs, I will be following the progress of the Bill, which is joint between the Home Office and Ministry of Justice, and to ensure that it takes into account all the feedback we provided as part of the consultations done with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) which is wide ranging encompassing sentencing, rehabilitation and courts. Parts of the Bill including the proposal to extend the Sexual Offences Act to cover any adult who has regular and direct contact with children and is in a position of authority over them. We must do all we can to protect children and young people against those who put themselves in positions of trust and seek to abuse that trust to sexually exploit those who they should be protecting.
“Sexual offenders against children take advantage of a power imbalance and this extension to the Act will not only act as a deterrent but allow the law to deal with such offenders and abusers of trust.
“In relation to sentencing, the public needs to have confidence in the criminal justice system, or else they will lose faith in reporting crime. By ensuring those who commit the most serious violent crimes spend appropriate lengths of time in prison, we can send a clear message that we are on the side of victims.
“However, years of underinvestment in the wider criminal justice system has been cruelly exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19 leading to lengthy court case backlogs which is a real worry and threat to many of these measures.
“But we must look to reduce repeat re-offending through more effective community sentences and rehabilitation programmes for offenders where they are more appropriate.
“We are also investing in local community programmes which help offenders, such as those with substance misuse issues, to help turn their lives around. We know these types of interventions are successful and I am working with a number of organisations in West Yorkshire to deliver such programmes.
“I have long supported and campaigned for the increase in sentences for those who assault emergency workers from a minimum of 12 months. We have seen an unacceptable rise in the number of police officers and emergency workers facing serious injury and trauma as a result of being assaulted on duty and working with Chief Constable, Police Federation and local MPs such as Holly Lynch in West Yorkshire support the proposed increase.
“We need to do everything in our power to protect and support our emergency workers. They do jobs that present difficult challenges to their health and wellbeing on behalf of all of us, and should not also have to worry about being attacked while doing their duty to protect us.
“Whilst the overall intent of this Bill is recognised, the danger is that it is so wide ranging it could take 12 months or more to work its way through Parliament and much of it potentially never enacted.”