I am very pleased that this government has introduced new legislation to Parliament which will deliver on our manifesto commitment and give the police and courts greater powers to do their jobs, whilst ensuring the most violent criminals spend longer behind bars. We need a fair justice system – one that stands for the law-abiding majority, not the criminal minority. In the previous election, I pledged to crack down on crime and build safer communities – and our Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill delivers on that commitment, ensuring punishments fit the severity of the crime. The new protections and powers for the police while reforming sentencing include Whole Life Orders for child killers, with judges also allowed to impose this punishment on 18- to 20-year-olds in exceptional cases. New powers to halt the automatic early release of offenders who pose a danger to the public. The Bill also ends the halfway release of offenders sentenced for serious violent and sexual offences. Introducing life sentences for killer drivers. Serious Violence Reduction Orders – new stop and search powers against convicted knife offensive weapons offenders. We will also enshrine the police covenant in law and double the maximum sentence for assaulting an emergency worker from 12 months to 2 years. This Bill builds on our progress to deliver 20,000 more police officers and delivers on this Conservative Government’s pledge to restore confidence in the criminal justice system, giving our full support to the police and courts to cut crime and make our streets safer.
Many parents have been concerned about their children’s education during the lockdown, so it is encouraging to see that pupils in schools and colleges in North Cornwall have started the full return to face-to-face education as part of Step One on our roadmap to recovery. As a father myself, I know how important it is for every child to be back in the classroom where they belong, not only for their education but for their wellbeing, which is why we rightly prioritised education in our first step towards easing restrictions. To support their full return, we are providing 57 million rapid tests to schools and colleges to help identify cases and break the chains of transmission; and this testing is in addition to existing safety already in place which will all help keep staff and students safe, and crucially, in class. This moment marks a truly important step on our path to national recovery from the pandemic, allowing young people to receive the world-class education they deserve, as we move closer to a sense of normality.
Finally, I am working with the Police and Crime Commissioner to free up funds currently held in the camera safety partnership. This is money that has been collected from speeding fines, and I know there are many communities in North Cornwall who have ideas about road safety measures in their towns and villages. If we are successful in freeing up this money it is hoped to be able to work up projects which can be delivered locally. I look forward to updating you again about this soon.