Last week Jonathan Gullis, Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke led a debate regarding a campaign himself and James Sunderland MP started last year, ensuring war memorials are properly protected in law.
Last June, during protests, several of the war memorials throughout the UK were desecrated. This prompted Gullis and Sunderland to ensure any future desecrations would receive the correct conviction for the offence made.
The Minister confirmed that the Government will bring legislation forward in the early part of this year.
Although there is provision in existing legislation to hold criminals to account for damage to property, and offenders have been successfully prosecuted, relatively few are held to account for the severity of the aggravating circumstances that come with criminally damaging something as sacred to the nation as war memorials.
For damage to war memorials, this Bill proposes exemption from the £5,000 damages threshold under the Criminal Damage Act 1971; removal of a maximum fine in favour of an unlimited fine; and establishment of a maximum custodial sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment.
Gullis said “Across my constituency I witness every year the importance the community places on remembering our past and present armed forces personnel. Memorials stand in great, solemn, eternal remembrance of the glorious dead. We cannot bring back those lives or erase the grief of families and communities. The very least we can do is ensure that memorials are adequately protected and punish those who would do them harm.”