Criminal Justice Bill

On Wednesday 15 May 2024, the House of Commons considered the Criminal Justice Bill. The Bill contains various measures which the Government says will protect the public, give the police the powers they need to cut crime and anti-social behaviour, improve public confidence in the police, introduce tougher sentencing for sexual and violent criminals and strengthen the supervision of offenders on release from prison. I support this Bill. There are many measures within in it that I have supported calls for, such as the introduction of corporate criminal liability, stronger sentences on sexual offences, and the crack down on antisocial behaviour by going after drug dealers with stronger closure orders. However, I am concerned at how long it has taken to bring forward such measures. I also consider that the Bill does not go far enough to deal with the deep problems the criminal justice system now faces after a decade of decline. I supported a new clause in the Bill that would have introduced a ban on ninja swords, dangerous weapons which have been used to kill teenagers on Britain’ streets. Unfortunately, this measure was voted down by Government MPs. I was also disappointed that a new clause that would have amended parts of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to replace the term “prostitution” with “sexual exploitation”, in order to stop victims of adult sexual exploitation from being wrongly identified as consensually engaging in sex work, was also defeated.

I welcome though that the Government has made concessions and listened to concerns raised by MPs about the Bill in other areas. I support, for example, new clauses that were added to the Bill to make it an offence to create a sexually explicit deep fake image of an adult without their consent; to make it an aggravating factor if an offence of manslaughter involves sexual conduct; and to make ‘cuckooing’ – where people take over another person’s home for the purpose of criminal activity by coercion, threats or abuse of a position of vulnerability – a specific offence. I am also pleased that the Bill now provides for an automatic suspension of parental responsibility in cases where a father is convicted of child rape, although I am concerned that this does not extend to other serious sex offences against children. The Bill was also amended to create a new offence of causing death or serious injury by dangerous, careless or inconsiderate cycling and to strengthen sentences for criminals who sexually abuse the dead.

The House of Commons will consider further amendments to the Bill at a later date.

I voted Aye for both stages and these are the results:
Criminal Justice Bill Report Stage: New Clause 44 – Ayes: 167 Noes: 275
Criminal Justice Bill Report Stage: New Clause 59 – Ayes: 171 Noes: 272