Archive for Law and order

Tom calls for more action on assaults on Police Officers

Tom has called on the government to take steps to keep Police Officers safe from attacks.

161011 TB protect police

In a debate organised Holly Lynch, MP for Halifax, Tom said he was concerned that cuts in police numbers were risking officer safety, as more police patrols were conducted by lone officers. He also highlighted the case of one Cleveland Police Officer who had twice suffered a broken jaw in the last year as a result of being assaulted.

During a ‘Protect the Protectors’ event in Parliament Tom met with members of the Police Federation and serving Police Officers to discuss the latest assault figures and discuss how violence towards the police affected their ability to protect their communities.

The most recent Home Office figures on police officer assaults show that there were approximately 23,000 assaults on Police Officers with nearly 250 assaults in Cleveland alone.

However, even this is thought to be an underestimate as the Home Office believe that many assaults go unreported. Some police forces do not collect data recording the total number of assaults meaning that the national figures provide an incomplete picture of the situation.

Tom said:

Police Officers in my constituency and around the country work to keep people safe, but increasingly they are at risk themselves.

Cleveland Police work tirelessly to protect my constituents – the least we can do is ask that police are given proper support and those who attack police are properly punished.

I fear that government cuts are contributing to the problem. The Tories need to get their act together when it comes to recording and tackling this sort of crime.

‘Don’t waste opportunity to get tough on knife crime’ urge local Labour representatives

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Tom Blenkinsop and Anna Turley, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Redcar, have today (17th June 2014) called on Teesside’s Coalition MP’s, Ian Swales and James Wharton, to ‘use their vote to get tough on knife crime’.

Their comments came ahead of votes on amendments to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill on knife crime later today.

Tom said:
“Tough action must be taking to deal with the scourge of knife crime. The devastation it can cause to families and communities is almost incomprehensible. We need to send a clear message that knife crime is unacceptable and sentencing sends out a strong signal which is why I will be supporting these changes to the law today. I hope my neighbouring MP’s do not waste this opportunity to get tough on knife crime or it will be a huge disservice to victims.

Anna said:
“Knife crime has devastating consequences for victims and families. MPs have the opportunity today to legislate to tackle this terrible crime, help make our streets safer and ensure that future generations are protected. I sincerely hope Ian Swales votes to protect residents in the Redcar constituency today.”

Statement following conviction of Councillor Dave McLuckie

Reacting to today’s (18th June 2013) guilty verdict for Councillor Dave McLuckie for perverting the course of justice, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop said:

“No one is above the law, and that applies to every elected politician and public servant. The Labour Party should not – and will not – tolerate this type of illegal behaviour.

“With a jury finding Cllr McLuckie guilty of an extremely serious offence and the Judge warning he faces a likely prison sentence, I am repeating my previous calls for him to resign as a Skelton ward councillor. He must do this as a matter of urgency. The people of Skelton and East Cleveland must come first; they expect and deserve far better.”

Tom’s Second Call for McLuckie Resignation

Government needs to get tough on crime urges Tom

Local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop has today (30th April 2013) urged the Government to ‘get tough on crime’ as new figures revealed that in over 10,000 serious violence cases “community resolutions” have been used instead of prosecutions and cautions.

A series of FOIs show a steep increase in serious offences including domestic violence and knife crime being dealt with by community resolutions, originally intended for low level crimes, since cuts started in 2010.

Tom said:
“It is extremely concerning that offenders who admit to serious and violent crimes such as knife crime, domestic violence, and serious assault, are increasingly being let off with no criminal record, no justice for victims, and not even a caution.

“Ministers promised stronger action against serious and violent crime, especially knife crime, yet these shocking figures prove they have done the opposite. And the idea that perpetrators of domestic violence are being let off for merely saying ‘sorry’ to the victim I find very disturbing and I fear it risks perpetuating any abuse.

“We know police forces are under pressure from the scale of cuts and demands to dispose of crimes so it is no coincidence that this big increase in community resolutions for serious crime comes at the same time as 15,000 officers are being lost.

“The Home Secretary needs to deal with this urgently by ensuring community resolutions are only used for low level crime and for the government to recognise the real threat to justice from the scale of police cuts and to get tough on serious crime.”

Tom calls for resignation as former chairman of Cleveland Police Authority is arrested again

Following the announcement that Cllr David McLuckie was recently arrested by North Yorkshire police officers, Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, has called on him to “do the honourable thing and resign” as a councillor.

Tom said:
“Clearly this a very serious matter that must be dealt with and, as in accord with our judicial system, Councillor McLuckie naturally remains innocent until proven guilty.

“However, it is my firm belief that Cllr McLuckie will struggle to effectively represent the people of Skelton as a councillor whilst he’s having to deal with these very serious allegations against him, especially when Operation Sacristy is continuing to investigate Cleveland Police Authority. He should therefore do the right thing, and resign for the sake of my constituents in Skelton.

“I cannot see how it is at all feasible for him or his constituents to represent or be properly represented with the sheer quantity of allegations piled at his door. The right thing to do for everyone involved is surely for Cllr McLuckie to resign as a councillor until these matters are resolved.”

Cllr D McLuckie was suspended from the Labour Party when he was arrested in November as part of Operation Sacristy – an ongoing investigation into Cleveland Police Authority.

Local MP set to ask Ken Clarke about why “violent convict” Sharkey was allowed to work at Newham Grange leisure farm

Tom Blenkinsop, the Labour Member of Parliament for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, is set to ask the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, Ken Clarke, about why Bernard Lee Sharkey, a violent convicted prisoner, was allowed to work at the leisure farm at Newham Grange.

Tom said:
“I find myself somewhat amazed that Her Majesty’s Prison Service felt it appropriate to allow a prisoner serving an indefinite sentence for public protection to work in a family environment in my constituency, like Newham Grange Country Farm in Coulby Newham. Whilst rehabilitation is important, it was quite clearly not the correct decision in this instance to permit him to work in such a place.

“In the House of Commons, I will be asking Ken Clarke, the Secretary of State who is responsible for prisons in England and Wales, a series of questions surrounding the circumstances of this escape. My constituents deserve to know what risk assessment was undertaken by the Prison Service, how often similar incidents have happened in the past elsewhere in both the region and the country, and what steps the Prison Service will take to stop the public being put at risk by any future such occurrences.

“I will also be asking the Home Secretary, Theresa May, what estimate she has made of the cost that police forces face attempting to find escaped prisoners like Bernard Lee Sharkey, and whether the Prison Service compensates local police forces involved in such manhunts.”

In addition, Tom has written to Cleveland Police and Her Majesty’s Prison Service asking for an update on their inquiries.

Police levels drop to a 9 year low

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Tom Blenkinsop has expressed concern at Home Office figures that reveal police numbers in England and Wales have dropped to the lowest numbers in nine years.

The Home Office Report revealed that the total number of police officers fell by 5,009 compared to this time last year.

Tom said:

“These figures are shocking. David Cameron said frontline policing would not be hit by his huge 20% cuts to our force, but the truth is that frontline officers are being cut.

“Neighbourhood officers, 999 response and traffic police are being cut right across the country. 62 of these visible officers are being lost in Cleveland.

“The blame for these cuts lies squarely with the Tory-led Government. Cleveland Police have been put in an impossible decision by this Government’s decision to cut police funding by 20%. The recent 1% increase in crime in the Cleveland Police area proves that spending on the Police is necessary to keep crime down.

“I recognise savings need to be made, but the Government has doubled Labour’s cuts to police funding, and made the steepest cuts in the first two years. That’s not an attack on waste, that’s an attack on the police.

“Our police are under pressure like never before, as the Police Federation said at their conference: 20% Police cuts are criminal.”

Increased crime levels in Cleveland are proof that “Cameron’s cuts need to be halted”

Crime has increased in Cleveland, with 517 more crimes reported in the area between March ’11 and March ’12 compared with the figures for the same period the year previous, according to a report published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics.

Budget cuts and the loss of frontline officers have made effective police work progressively more difficult. The situation is set to become worse as the Cleveland Police Force is expected to save £26 million from its budget by 2015, which will include cutting 750 people from its workforce, 270 of which will be police officers. These cuts will return Cleveland to 1974 policing levels.

Tom said:
“Many of my constituents have contacted me, complaining that the lack of police officers is having a detrimental effect the wellbeing of the area.

“One gentleman said that he had called his local police station to complain about vandalism only to be told that no one could respond to his call since there were only 2 police officers on duty that night, and they had already been deployed elsewhere.

“This situation is clearly untenable. As Stephen Matthews, the chairman of the Cleveland Police Federation said ‘We have managed until now, but can we do everything we have been doing in the future? – I am not sure’. David Cameron promised that frontline policing would not be affected by his mammoth 20% cut in funding, but this claim was an outright lie.

“These most recent statistics are irrefutable proof that the safety of our communities is at risk. Cameron’s cuts need to be halted before crime escalates any further.”

Tom Blenkinsop ‘shocked’ at no-show Home Secretary

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (17th April 2012) expressed shock as new figures revealed that Tory Home Secretary Theresa May has failed to visit the North East even once since May 2010 – despite heavy cuts to Police in the area.

Following a question by Tom Blenkinsop it was also revealed that Greater London and South East England have received 28 visits since May 2010 and clearly demonstrates the North-South divide.

Tom said:

“It is frankly appalling that Theresa May has failed to visit Teesside even once since taking on the crucial role Home Secretary in May 2010.

“In Teesside alone, the Government is cutting over 224 police officers and 10 PCSOs which risks the safety of our communities. Only last week I was talking with residents in Coulby Newham about local issues and one resident expressed concern over, what she perceived to be, an increase in burglary in the area.

“I’m sure the crime figures will prove or disprove this point but the fact remains that Theresa May is pushing through huge cuts to our Police, yet is not putting herself in the position to see the impact they have on local communities.”

Cleveland Police Authority member, Cllr Bernie Taylor, added:

“Cleveland Police are facing huge financial pressures from the cuts being imposed by the Government. Therefore, I was extremely disappointed, but not surprised when I saw these figures. I would urge the Home Secretary to visit Teesside before it is too late, and to witness the damage being caused by her cuts.”

MP seeks to tackle metal theft from churches

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop has met with Church of England officials as part of his campaign to push for action to be taken to tackle the problem of metal theft from Teesside and East Cleveland’s churches.

Tom has previously raised the problem of metal theft in Parliament, speaking in a debate and asking the Second Church Estates Commissioner Parliamentary questions. Figures provided by the Second Church Estates Commissioner in response to a Parliamentary question showing that £115,000 of metal was stolen from churches in the Anglican Diocese of York in 2011, a 62% increase from 2010.

Tom said: “As the Evening Gazette has managed to successfully highlight, churches in Teesside and East Cleveland are suffering severe problems due to metal theft, including St Leonard’s in Loftus and St Agnes’s in Easterside in my constituency.

Earlier this year, I wrote to many of the churches in my constituency, as well as the Archbishop of York and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Middlesbrough, to ask about their experiences surrounding metal theft. I have also met with a representative of the Church of England’s Cathedral and Church Buildings Division to discuss the problems in my constituency, following a question I asked to the Church Commissioners on the floor of the House of Commons. All these people have provided me with valuable feedback.”

The Church of England, in June 2011, released a document as to the steps it thinks are necessary to tackle the problem of metal theft. They proposed making cash transactions for lead illegal; introducing licensing for scrapyards and metal traders; requiring people selling metal to prove their identity; requiring CCTV to be installed at scrap metal dealer entrances and weigh-bridges; and placing a duty on scrapyards to report suspicious activity to the Police.

Tom added: “Although this is clearly a problem in Teesside, it is also a nationwide issue, with churches, cathedrals and war memorials suffering from metal theft throughout the UK.
I was honoured to speak in a debate in Parliament on 7 February to tell my fellow MPs about the problems churches in my constituency were facing from metal theft. I was also able to support a motion proposed by my colleague, Labour MP Graham Jones, and passed by Parliament that called for the Government to take steps very similar to those suggested by the Church, as well as granting the Police additional powers to search and investigate premises operated by scrap metal dealers.

With the Olympics coming up and churches struggling, it is time for the Government to get a grip. Action, regulation and legislation are needed. The Government’s proposed changes are, at best, half-measures: whilst banning cash payments is welcome, the Government has created loopholes for door-to-door metal collectors that criminals could jump through.

I hope the Government listens to Yvette Cooper MP, the Shadow Home Secretary; churches in Teesside; Parliament; and the Church of England are suggesting, and take the necessary steps.”