What next? 150 Oxford academics refusing to teach because the Rhodes statue wasn’t taken down, Churchill College, Cambridge is considering changing the name of the College to make it more “inclusive”, and students at Magdalen College Oxford have taken down a portrait of the Queen due to her links with colonialism.
Brilliant response from the Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg. Very reassuring. This sort of nonsense needs to be nipped in the bud.
Yesterday I spoke in the debate following the Queen’s speech on some of the plans that the Government have introduced for this session of Parliament.
I welcomed some of the Governments robust plans for tackling illegal immigration. There is nothing compassionate about sending out a message that it is worth the risk to make these journeys, fuelling the evil human trafficking trade and limiting the capacity of this country to help the most genuine refugees. These are refugees fleeing actual areas of conflict, not other safe European countries such as France.
I also welcomed the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which will introduce tougher sentences on some of the most serious offenders as well as introducing measures so that police can more effectively deal with protests that become violent and excessively disruptive. But I said that there is a lot further to go. Many of my constituents feel that the system is broken and looking at the sentencing of the man who killed Richard Day in Ipswich, it is hard to blame them. He received only four years for the manslaughter and will get out automatically after two. This is a man who punched Richard Day in the neck and was seen laughing over him as he died. I will be taking this case up further in Parliament and will push for much tougher sentencing for heinous crimes like this one.
As for skills, we are in a great position to benefit from the new freeport in Felixstowe. But in order to make the most advantage, we have to have an ecosystem approach to skills and education. We need to create a framework of dialogue for business, Further Education Colleges and our universities and we need to start careers advice early so that there is a sense that there are multiple pathways both academic and technical and that no one route is superior to any other.
I welcomed the lifetime skills guarantee and also the town deal which will also be a huge benefit to Ipswich. I mentioned the example of Spirit Yachts, which designs some of the world’s most in-demand elegant yachts. In the past they have had to rely on people coming from outside the area to work on their yachts, but now the Town Deal will be funding a maritime skills academy in order to train up a local high-skilled workforce to take up jobs in this sector. It is great that local people will have the opportunities to get these jobs and sell products from Ipswich – the greatest town in the country – around the world!
Today I spoke in Business Questions asking for a debate to be held in Government time on the issue of social media usage in prisons.
The issue of social media use in prison needs to be dealt with for the sake of victims and their families. The actions of the killers who brutally murdered 17-year-old Tavis Spencer Aitkens in Ipswich in 2018 show why something must be done. Every single one of these at some stage has posted on various social media platforms from behind bars.
Two of them are repeat offenders who have posted things such as their birthday celebrations on Facebook and snapchats to their friends from prison. One of these posts from Callum Plaats read ‘two years in, light work’.
The affect this is having on the family of Tavis is tremendous. No victims of violent crime or their family should have to be faced with criminals essentially breaking free from their prison walls to virtually torment them.
The fact that the same people are posting time and again proves that current in-house slap-on-the-wrist punishments do not work. I made clear today my view that future approaches need to involve sentences being looked at in order to actually deter these crimes from happening again.
This is why I have asked the Government for a debate on the the issue of social media use in prison which will include proposals about how we punish this crime going forward, particularly in terms of increased sentencing.
The Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg, recognised how troubling and horribly sad this is for Tavis’ family and how it must so much rub salt into the wound. He explained that the Government continues to roll out its £100 million spending programme on prisons security during the pandemic which is funding mobile phone blocking technologies and portable detection equipment as well as on next generation body scanners.
In 2019 the Digital Media Investigations Unit worked with social media companies to remove nearly 400 illegal posts and accounts and by June 2020 had removed 220 accounts.
I appreciate what the Leader of the House said in terms of the advances they are making but ultimately, he didn’t address my question about sentencing which in my view is key to effectively deterring prisoners from committing this crime.
Jacob Rees-Mogg acknowledged that this won’t be much comfort to Tavis’ family and accepted that more needs to be done. I will be challenging him and the Government on what they mean when they say more needs to be done, to make sure there is a concrete solution to this problem