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Stoke North MP's Bill to increase punishments for desecrating war memorials

Stoke North's MP has introduced a Bill into the House of Commons that would increase punishments for desecrating war memorials.

Jonathan Gullis is seeking to specifically criminalise the offence.

Under the proposals it would see a £5,000 maximum fine scrapped in favour of an unlimited fine.

It would also see the offence punishable by up to 10 years behind bars.

Mr Gullis said he wanted to introduce the new Bill as the current legislation does not go far enough.

Introducing the Bill, he said: "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, but the least we can do is ensure that memorials are adequately protected, and punish those who would deface, urinate on, spit on, defile, or graffiti them.

"Such actions, which have included swastikas spray-painted on statues, and Nazi salutes in 2020 before the Cenotaph, are the price we pay for ignorance and inaction."

Mr Gullis said he did not want all offences to be met with a 10 year sentence, but rather allow judges to use their discretion over whether the offence is worthy of being moved to a Crown Court - where greater punishments can be handed down.

He added: "I am asking the House to do the respectable thing—the right thing—and back this Bill to create an explicit offence, distinguishable from damage to public property.

"Let us join our friends in Australia, the United States and Canada, and pay the respect that we owe to those who died in the freedom fight against tyranny.

"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."

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