Life sentences for people who abuse children, and those who kill emergency workers on duty are among a series of criminal justice reforms coming into force today.
The government says the landmark reforms are designed to “make our streets safer”.
The reforms are part of the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act (PCSC Act) – which the government says equips police with “the powers and tools they need to combat crime”, while overhauling sentencing laws in a bid to protect the public, and keep serious sexual and violent offenders behind bars for longer.
The introduction of higher maximum penalties for a range of child cruelty offences will be known as ‘Tony’s Law’ after seven-year-old Tony Hudgell.
When Tony was a baby, he was attacked by his birth parents and left with broken fingers and toes, plus torn ligaments in his legs – however, he was left untreated and in pain for 10 days, and the delay in getting treatment meant that both his legs had to be amputated in 2017, which has left him wheelchair-bound.
His birth parents were sentenced to the current maximum jail term of 10 years.
But Tony’s adoptive mother Paula Hudgell said that more has to be done to protect vulnerable children, adding that the planned tougher sentences are for “Tony and all the babies and children that suffered or lost their lives at the hands of their abusers”.
The law follows the tireless campaigning of PC Andrew Harper’s family, and his widow Lissie Harper, who were prompted to take action after the 28-year-old was killed while responding to a call about a stolen quad bike in Berkshire on 15 August 2019.
PC Harper’s killers – 19-year-old Henry Long, and his two 18-year-old passengers Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers – were cleared of murder, and given sentences of between 13 years and 19 years for manslaughter, and although an appeal was made by the Attorney General asking for their jail terms to be increased, this was rejected.
Lissie had previously said she was “outraged” by the length of sentences handed to the three teenagers responsible for his death.
Some of the other reforms being introduced as part of the PCSC Act include ending the automatic early release of offenders deemed to be a danger to the public, giving domestic abuse victims more time to report incidents of common assault or battery, and making the taking of non-consensual photographs or video recordings of breastfeeding mothers will be punishable by up to two years in prison.
The most violent and sexual offenders, including rapists, will also be forced to spend longer in prison to keep the public safer.
Judges will also be able to hand down life sentences for death by dangerous driving or death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs, and there will also be a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving.
Controversially, the PCSC Act also introduces a new offence of “intentionally of recklessly” causing public nuisance, which the government says reflects the rise in so-called “guerrilla protest” tactics, and there’ll also be new police powers to tackle non-violent protests that cause disruption to the public or access to parliament.
“This government is delivering on its commitment to make our streets safer,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
“We have changed the law so that dangerous criminals are given the sentences they deserve and kept behind bars, and we are backing the police with the powers they need to keep us safe.
“We are well on our way to getting 20,000 more police officers, and we will continue to support victims seeking justice and bear down on crime so that everyone, in every town, village and city, has the security and confidence they deserve.”
You can read the full list of reforms introduced as part of the PCSC Act on the gov.uk website.
Featured Image – Pxhere
Major property developer criticised for ‘anti-sex worker’ billboard in Manchester city centre
One of Manchester’s most recognised property development companies has faced backlash this week for a ‘disgraceful’ billboard placed beside its newest residential site.
The enormous advertisement was erected beside Capital & Centric’s Crusader Mill and Phoenix developments in Piccadilly East.
On it are the words ‘From red light, to green light’ – a slogan that’s been branded as a ‘discriminatory, anti-sex worker billboard’ by a local charity.
Capital & Centric has now acknowledged that people ‘don’t like the banner’ and said that it will be changed.
MASH (Manchester Action on Street Health) offers support to women who sex work – be it for emotional wellbeing or sexual health – and has its headquarters near to the new billboard.
They wrote: “We’re saddened that a discriminatory, anti-sex worker billboard has been put up nr MASH.
“If we want Manchester to be a welcoming city where all can thrive, this isn’t the way.
“We stand with sex workers, always. Help to counteract the hate by supporting us mash.org.uk/donate.”
On Twitter, one person said: “Disgraceful for a property developer to espouse any kind of morality over sex workers who were here decades before them ~on a literal billboard~. @CapitalCentric you should be ashamed of this.”
Someone else said: “Unbelievably poor taste advertising from so-called social impact investors at @CapitalCentric.”
Adam Higgins, co-founder of Capital&Centric, said: “There’s been a handful of comments on social media from people who don’t like the banner. We never want to cause upset, so it’s being changed.
“Anyone who’s followed us will know about our efforts to have positive social impacts on the communities where we work.
“From building new homes and creating inclusive neighbourhoods, to actively supporting those most in need by working with frontline homeless charities.”
A Manchester City Council spokesperson said: “We have been made aware of an advertising banner installed by Capital and Centric in the Piccadilly area.
“We understand that this banner was not intended to cause offence and they have agreed to remove it.
“Capital and Centric play an important role in the city’s development, working with a number of voluntary and community organisations in this area, and have apologised for any unintentional upset caused by this marketing campaign.”
Featured image: The Manc Group
The public will get to have their say on the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone – but not until 2023
New reports have suggested that the Greater Manchester public are to be consulted on the latest Clean Air Zone (CAZ) proposals – but this won’t be done any time soon.
The closest thing to a public response from the government on the plan was when environment secretary George Eustice said he believed there was “little robust evidence” that it will work effectively.
Mr Eustace suggested that taxis, vans, buses, and lorries should still be charged in the city centre.
It’s now being reported that, ahead GMCA’s plan for a non-charging CAZ is to be formally-submitted to the government in its final form following a meeting on 16 August, ‘targeted engagement’ is currently taking place on the proposal and an online survey for some motorists is set to launch in a couple of weeks – but this will not go out to everyone.
ITV Granada reports that transport bosses have confirmed the wider public will not be able to have their say on the new proposals until early 2023.
This has already been met with criticism from industry leaders and campaign groups.
Prominently addressing the fact the public will not be consulted on plans until 2023, spokesperson for RethinkGM – a campaign group set up in opposition to the Greater Manchester Clear Air Zone – said: “It is extremely disappointing that leadership of Greater Manchester continue to ignore the public and residents of the region once again, by leaving public consultation on any CAZ scheme until early 2023.
“With a national cost of living crisis currently under way and residents now choosing between eating, heating and survival, GMCA still fail in their duty to residents and maintain their ill-advised attempt to impose further unnecessary limitations on livelihoods.
“It is quite clear that this scheme now needs scrapping in full and consideration given to the poor, low paid, business and those suffering above all else.”