MP and community leaders clash over new crime bill proposals

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt. Picture: PARLIAMENT LIVE TV

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said he will be voting for the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that is being debated in parliament this week. - Credit: Archant

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt will vote for a new law that includes a crackdown on "disruptive" protests - but local Labour councillors say the proposals "ignore women" and don't go far enough.

Some serious sexual offences could increase to four years under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill, which is currently being debated in parliament. 

While the longest time you can get for defacing a war memorial might go up to ten years.

Deputy leader of Ipswich Borough Council Bryony Rudkin said: "I don't know any women who wouldn't think about their daughter over a statue."

Mr Hunt responded by saying Labour are "not a patriotic party" and "don't understand" the importance of protecting war memorials and statues. 

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The Conservative MP added, in a statement, "Rapists and those found guilty of committing serious sexual offences will spend longer in prison as a result of this bill.

"This bill also ends the halfway release of those found guilty of sexual offences such as rape. They will now need to spend at least two-thirds of their sentence behind bars.

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“The Government is putting more money into the Safer Streets Fund which can be used for better street lighting and CCTV.

"I'm really pleased something called 'Kay's law' is being introduced.

"In 2018 Kay Richardson was killed by her husband after accusing him of rape. This new law would mean much tougher bail conditions for those under investigation for serious sexual offences."

Bryony Rudkin. Picture: SU ANDERSON

Along with other Labour Ipswich councillors Bryony Rudkin is urging Tom Hunt to vote against the bill - Credit: Su Anderson

Mrs Rudkin also called rape reports "horrifying" with around 85,000 women - roughly 233 rapes a day - and 12,000 men becoming victims every year.

The government stats also found that of that 233, only three face a conviction.

She claimed this is down to the cuts to the criminal justice system and police. 

"Rape is becoming fairly unprosecutable," she told this newspaper. "The courts are being jammed up.

"Justice is just not being properly financed."

Mrs Rudkin was also concerned, along with the other councillors, about the bill stopping some protests.

The bill cites protests that cause “unjustifiable disruption to others” and are noisy as examples of what could be limited in the future. 

Mr Hunt responded by saying that the legislation "100% protects peaceful protests". 

As examples of "chaos" that needs to be cracked down on he cited a "small minority" of Black Lives Matter protesters and "destructive" Extinction Rebellion demonstrations. 

He would also have liked for the law to go further on "particularly aggressive and disruptive" protesters.

Labour has said its MPs will vote against the bill as it "curbs" the right to protest. 

Today, Met police officer Wayne Couzens, of Deal, appeared in court accused of the murder and kidnap of Sarah Everard.

Her death has sparked an outpouring of women sharing their stories and an online vigil in Suffolk

For help from Suffolk Rape Crisis, you can call 01473 231 200 or contact them here

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