On Tuesday 16 March, Sir David Amess spoke at the Second Reading of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Amongst other things, Sir David called for safer streets in Southend, a full investigation into Operation Midland and praised the Home Secretary for the changes made to deliberate acts of trespassing.
Sir David Amess said:
The Second Reading of a Bill is, for me, about the principle of the legislation. As a candidate at the last general election, I stood on the Government’s manifesto to make this country safer by taking more effective action against crime. Colleagues have the opportunity both in Committee and on Report to amend the Bill if they so wish. I say to my hon. Friend the Minister that I was slightly disappointed that the issue of “released under investigation” was not included in this particular Bill, but I am very glad that the Home Office has announced today that we will be looking again at the role of police and crime commissioners.
Local residents in my constituency have been shocked about a murder in Old Leigh and violent activities in Chalkwell Park. I raised the issue of knife crime in the Chamber earlier this month and was told by the Prime Minister that we have more than 6,000 of our target extra 20,000 police already recruited.
I hope that Essex police recruit enough police officers to stop any more violent crime.
This debate is taking place against a background of an horrendous murder. It appears that the management of the Metropolitan police needs to give a far better and fuller explanation of how it handled recent events. There should also be an external independent investigation, or a public inquiry, into the Metropolitan police’s handling of Operation Midland. My former colleague and parliamentary neighbour, Harvey Proctor, and my former colleague, the late Home Secretary, Leon Brittan, among others, have been denied justice for far too long. The Metropolitan police must not act as judge and jury on its own failings. There should be a full-scale debate in Parliament on Operation Midland and on who should be held to account.
My office looks over Parliament Square. I have long complained about the endless demonstrations that take place on this very busy roundabout. It is absolutely ridiculous. It is very difficult to work because of the noise—the drums, horns and loudspeakers. Policing these so-called events costs a huge amount of money and, with Parliament being the seat of democracy, our work should not be disrupted.
Finally, I am delighted that the campaign of my right hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois), which he started in 2018 to make deliberate acts of trespass a criminal rather than a civil offence, has been successful. After a large number of Travellers set up encampments on Snakes Lane in Eastwood, many of my constituents complained about an increase in vandalism, crime and antisocial behaviour. I fully support the Home Secretary in her decision to amend the existing powers to remove trespassers, and I wish this Bill well.