Over the past few years, a sizable number of people in North Cornwall have lobbied me to push for judicial reform. It has been something which I have sat down with the Justice Secretary and brought directly to the attention of the Prime Minister. I am pleased, therefore, that we have announced a £113 million funding boost for our justice system, helping to reduce delays and ensuring speedier justice for victims, defendants and the public. This pandemic has put unprecedented pressures on our justice system – but we are determined to minimise delays and ensure justice can be served for everyone. Delivering this £113 million funding package for our legal system will include building 14 new ‘Nightingale Courts’ – bringing the total number up to 60 – as well as recruiting additional staff, and putting in place new technology and safety measures to ensure these new courtrooms can run effectively. This investment will help to further drive our recovery from the pandemic, delivering swifter justice and better support for victims.
Judicial reform must also go hand in hand with supporting our police forces. Last week I was invited to a briefing with British Transport police to learn how they tackle the scourge of ‘county lines' drug crime. I found this very useful and informative and it follows on from a pilot scheme in our area of North Cornwall which they have just completed. The police have my full support in stopping the transport of drugs and in protecting vulnerable or at-risk individuals from becoming drug runners. The British Transport Police are also working with the Children’s Society to safeguard vulnerable young people being exploited on the rail network as part of the #LookCloser campaign. When it comes to exploitation, there is no ‘perfect victim’, any young person can be exploited, so If you see something that doesn’t feel right, text @BTP on 61016.
The Education Department has announced that more than one million laptops and tablets have been delivered to disadvantaged children across England, including 2,055 in Cornwall, ensuring they can continue to access a high-quality remote education while schools remain closed. Since the start of the pandemic, we have made it our priority to ensure that every child has access to the world-class education that they deserve – no matter their background or upbringing. That is why, as part of the extensive package of support put in place for the most disadvantaged children, we have now delivered over one million laptops and tablets – as part of the 1.3 million that will be delivered in total – alongside a further £300 million being invested in tutoring programmes, building on the existing £1 billion Covid Catch Up Fund. We will continue to do everything we can to protect our children’s education throughout these unprecedented times, ensuring they have all the tools and resources they need to get on with and make the most of their lives.