A CAMPAIGN to make it a criminal offence to vandalise war memorials took a step closer this week after Parliament agreed to give it a second reading in the autumn.
Championed by Bracknell MP James Sunderland, the bill was inspired by recent protests.
Mr Sunderland met with Justice Secretary Robert Buckland to set out his case for a new law.
In a statement, Mr Buckland said: “I have been appalled to see pictures in the newspapers and on television of violence and vandalism at recent protests.
“They may not be worth a lot of money, but war memorials have enormous sentimental value which needs to be better reflected by the law.
“When I bring forward the Government’s plans for sentencing reform, they will get the protection they need and those who vandalise them can expect to spend longer behind bars.”
The Private Members Bill which Mr Sunderland presented to the House of Commons was supported by Stoke-on-Trent MP Jonathan Gullis. The pair are both members of Blue Collar Conservatism (BCC), a group that campaigns to make Government policy reflect the needs of working people, their families and communities.
The Bill defines war memorials as any physical object, grave, headstone or anything erected, created or installed to commemorate those involved or affected by a conflict or war, including civilians or animals, and will cover defacing by graffiti, burning, spitting, urinating or defecating.
Mr Sunderland said: “Following constructive meetings, I welcome the Justice Secretary’s assurance that this Government is committed to cracking down on those people who show no respect for the war memorials and graves of those who fought so hard for our country.
“It is beyond disrespectful andI hope that this will act as a deterrent to them and they will know such action will result in punishment.
“My BCC colleagues who introduced the Private Members’ Bill, have my full support and will continue to do so.
“It seems Government has already listened, and Robert Buckland assured me that he will act on it, which is fantastic news.”