Nadia Whittome debates involving the Home Office during the 2019 Parliament

Mon 13th Mar 2023
Mon 25th Apr 2022
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
Commons Chamber

Consideration of Lords messageConsideration of Lords Message & Consideration of Lords message
Wed 20th Apr 2022
Nationality and Borders Bill
Commons Chamber

Consideration of Lords amendmentsConsideration of Lords Message & Consideration of Lords amendments
Tue 22nd Mar 2022
Nationality and Borders Bill
Commons Chamber

Consideration of Lords amendments & Consideration of Lords amendments
Tue 1st Mar 2022

Nottingham Incident

Nadia Whittome Excerpts
Wednesday 14th June 2023

(8 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Nadia Whittome Portrait Nadia Whittome (Nottingham East) (Lab)
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I send my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims of yesterday’s attacks and wish a full recovery to those injured. I also thank those in the emergency services who have been working tirelessly in responding to this tragic incident, including the first responders who battled to save lives at the scene. Nottingham is devastated by the deaths of three residents of our city: Grace Kumar, Barnaby Webber and Ian Coates. It was incredibly moving to join the vigil yesterday at St Peter’s church where hundreds of people came together in grief. Among them were many students who lost two much-loved members of their community. Will the Home Secretary join me in paying tribute to the people of Nottingham and to their unity and resilience at this painful time?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
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The hon. Lady speaks with passion and care for her constituents and I echo the sentiment that she has expressed. The people of Nottingham will be shaken beyond belief over the events of the past few days. We are with them as a nation. We stand by them and with them, and we will support them in all ways that they need.

Coronation: Policing of Protests

Nadia Whittome Excerpts
Tuesday 9th May 2023

(9 months, 4 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Nadia Whittome Portrait Nadia Whittome (Nottingham East) (Lab)
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The Minister has repeatedly used the example of hundreds being able to protest as evidence that our right to protest has not been undermined. But when people can be pre-emptively arrested on the flimsiest of pretences and then thrown in a police cell for the best part of 24 hours, how can he reassure people who are attending a protest, or even walking near a protest, that the same thing will not happen to them? How can he claim that our right to protest is not being undermined by his Government?

Chris Philp Portrait Chris Philp
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I have mentioned the ECHR compatibility, particularly in relation to articles 10 and 11. Before the police can arrest anyone, they have to have reasonable grounds for suspicion that an offence has been committed. Obviously, individual operational decisions—in this case relating to six people—are something that can be looked into subsequently if that is necessary, but the Public Order Bill, as passed by Parliament, does nothing to criminalise lawful protest. As I have said, hundreds and hundreds of people did exercise exactly that right, although they were in a tiny minority.

Illegal Migration Bill

Nadia Whittome Excerpts
Nadia Whittome Portrait Nadia Whittome (Nottingham East) (Lab)
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Let me remind the hon. Member for Blackpool South (Scott Benton) that the reason our public services are crumbling and people cannot see a dentist, and the reason NHS workers are queuing up at food banks and parents are living on their children’s leftovers, is nothing to do with migrants, asylum seekers or refugees; it is the fact that his party has been in power for the last 13 years.

Last night, Ke Huy Quan won best supporting actor at the Oscars. In the 1970s, he fled Vietnam in a refugee crisis that saw countries closing their borders to desperate people arriving by boat. Had he arrived on our shores under this Bill, he might well have been locked up and deported. Last year, the Olympian Sir Mo Farah revealed that he had arrived in the UK under a false passport, trafficked from a war zone into domestic servitude. Had he arrived under this Bill, he might not have been eligible for access to modern slavery protections.

I raise those examples not because I think that refugees should need to win awards and medals before they are respected, but to remind the House that the refugees whom the Government seeks to ban are people, with their own hopes and dreams—people who want to rebuild their lives and be reunited with their families; people who, like any one of us, may go on to do exceptional things or lead very ordinary existences, as should be their right. I say that because it seems that some Members need reminding of refugees’ humanity. When they say “invasion” they present desperate people seeking sanctuary as a threat, when they say “stop the boats” they mean that we should turn our back on refugees, and when their policy is welcomed by far-right groups, we should all be alarmed about the direction in which the Government are taking us.

What the Home Secretary is proposing is a de facto ban on seeking asylum in the UK, because for the vast majority of refugees there is no so-called legal way of reaching the UK. If you face religious persecution in Iran, there is no scheme to which you can apply. If you are a victim of torture in Eritrea, there is no visa that you can obtain. Even if you are from Afghanistan, a country that is supposed to have a resettlement scheme, the chances of your being accepted are vanishingly tiny: only 22 people have arrived under pathway 2. It is our asylum policies that are forcing people into the arms of smugglers and pushing people into fragile dinghies in the world’s busiest shipping lane, and it is this Government who are to blame for the misery that they cause. The only one way in which to resolve this situation is to open safe and legal routes—now.

Spiking Incidents: Prevention

Nadia Whittome Excerpts
Wednesday 11th January 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Westminster Hall
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Westminster Hall is an alternative Chamber for MPs to hold debates, named after the adjoining Westminster Hall.

Each debate is chaired by an MP from the Panel of Chairs, rather than the Speaker or Deputy Speaker. A Government Minister will give the final speech, and no votes may be called on the debate topic.

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Richard Graham Portrait Richard Graham
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My right hon. Friend has made two correct points. First, it happens to men as well as women. When I promoted my ten-minute rule Bill, I highlighted the unfortunate case of a Christian Indonesian in Manchester, Mr Sinaga, whose videos later revealed to police 58 cases of men being sexually assaulted. Many of those men did not know they had been sexually assaulted until the police showed them the video evidence. My right hon. Friend is absolutely right on that point. Her second point, on spiking taking place for all sorts of reasons, including that of entertainment—“It’s cool, it’s fun, it’s a dare”—is absolutely valid. That is why we need to ensure that any attempt to spike, or any spiking act, is completely illegal, whatever the motive. She is right to highlight that point.

I will finish on the question of data collection, with a quote from the response of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners. It was given in response to the Home Affairs Committee report by the joint leads for the APPC’s addictions and substance misuse portfolio —one is from Durham and the other from Dorset—who said that

“we agree that the creation of a separate criminal offence for spiking would send a clear message to perpetrators that this behaviour is not acceptable and could encourage victims in coming forwards to report incidents.”

That is critical. I know from my constituent Maisy that a lot of young people who have been spiked do not, for various reasons, want to come forward to report the incident. They are frightened of the repercussions and do not believe it will necessarily get anywhere. I believe that the almost 5,000 reports that I mentioned earlier is almost certainly an underestimation of the volume of incidents.

Nadia Whittome Portrait Nadia Whittome (Nottingham East) (Lab)
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The hon. Member is making an excellent speech and I thank him for the huge amount of work that he has already done on this issue. Does he agree that women in particular are tired of being told that it is our responsibility to protect ourselves from male violence, and that we have to be careful where we go, how much we drink, use anti-spiking straws or even flag down a bus if worried about being victimised? Does he agree that it is time to focus on the perpetrators and on educating men, tackling the root cause, which is misogyny, and actually prosecuting crimes?

Richard Graham Portrait Richard Graham
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The hon. Lady makes a very good point, although, as we have heard, there are young males who are also victims of spiking. As a father, when my daughter was young and first going out to nightclubs, I advised her to be very cautious. I gave her a list of things she could do to reduce the possibility of inadvertently getting mixed up in spiking and all sorts of other things. The hon. Lady is right to highlight that we should be focusing on the perpetrators and where the problem is, which is why it is so important to have spiking as an overall offence. She is right to say that this is not in any way about telling young women that they cannot go out and have a night of fun.

That leads me on to the next point I want to highlight from the Minister’s letter, which is about violence against women and girls. The Minister writes that the Government are focused on practical rather than legal action, and goes on to list various funding streams for VAWG initiatives. I believe that all of those are important, but they miss the specific point. I, my constituent Maisy, her mother Rosie, so many other constituents of colleagues here—including the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry), who sent me a case from her constituency—the Stamp Out Spiking group, which is represented here today, and many other colleagues who are not able to be here but would have wanted to, all want to see legal action as well as practical action in the form of a simple amendment such as I outlined earlier.

Such an amendment would also be very practical, I believe. It would enable media, social media, local government authorities, police, licensed victualling associations and nightclub managers to say, absolutely correctly and for the first time, that spiking is a named legal offence—that those who even attempt to do it might be cautioned or prosecuted, and might therefore be convicted of a criminal offence, which would seriously damage their chances of keeping or winning a job. I believe that will be very powerful, particularly for students. That message, clear and unambiguous, is what I believe the law should say, not just as guidance to the night-time economy managers but to everyone. It can be done through a simple amendment, which Government and parliamentary lawyers will be able to quickly come up with. I believe work was already being done on that by previous Ministers. It will add to the commitment made by the Prime Minister and this Government to reducing violence against women and girls, as well as affected males—a point that was made earlier by my right hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Southampton North (Caroline Nokes).

So, Minister, will this Government see the light, recognise the value of a simple amendment—not a new law; I get the point on that—and recognise that it is both desirable and necessary to get the message out there? This Government and Parliament could be the ones that make spiking completely illegal for the first time. I believe that other Ministers understood that, and I call on Ministers at the Home Office today to finish the job, and avoid the need for further debate and my wasting their precious ministerial time again. That is the challenge today, and I hope very much that the Minister and the Department will rise to it.

Western Jet Foil and Manston Asylum Processing Centres

Nadia Whittome Excerpts
Monday 31st October 2022

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Nadia Whittome Portrait Nadia Whittome (Nottingham East) (Lab)
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Yesterday, in a horrifying attack, a man threw petrol bombs at Tug Haven immigration centre in Dover. Does the Home Secretary consider that to be an act of terrorism? If not, why not—and will she unequivocally condemn all those who promote hatred towards migrants?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
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Of course, I am not going to comment on the particular details of this case. It is a very sad case and a very worrying case, and I am very concerned about the safety and security of the sites at Western Jet Foil and Manston. We evacuated the people from Western Jet Foil to Manston, and they are now back at Western Jet Foil. There has been a huge amount of effort by the authorities and I am very grateful to them.

Nadia Whittome Portrait Nadia Whittome (Nottingham East) (Lab)
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It was through protest that many of our fundamental rights were won, including the right to vote. Noise is an essential part of protest. What is the point of a demonstration if no one can hear its message? What is it if not a show of strength of feeling? Thousands of people gathered together will inevitably be loud. Make no mistake: the Bill is an assault on our right to protest and our ability to hold the powerful to account. What is to stop a corporation that is being protested against calling the police and claiming that the noise is causing significant disruption in order to shut down the demonstration?

The powers also give huge discretion to police officers. That will make the law on protests completely unpredictable. People will attend protests not knowing whether the noise that they are making is illegal and whether they will go home that evening and have dinner with their family or be thrown in the back of a police van. I have no faith that the police would show restraint with these new powers when other powers have been abused time and again.

In recent weeks Members across the House will have seen the heroic actions of anti-war protesters in Russia and Ukraine. If MPs truly support their right to protest and their ability to make noise, they should vote against these powers. Many Conservative Members also consider themselves great champions of freedom of speech, quick to condemn so-called cancel culture. If they truly believe in freedom of expression, they should vote against the powers.

I would also bet that the majority of Members in this Chamber will at some point have taken part in a protest that could have fallen foul of a noise trigger—thank goodness the Chamber is not subject to these anti-noise laws, because otherwise I expect that would be happening every Wednesday. I urge every Member here to think about those protests, the causes they were championing and the people they were with. If they feel that those protests were legitimate and that they should not have been arrested for making some noise, I urge them to extend the same right to others and to vote down these powers.

Kit Malthouse Portrait Kit Malthouse
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Let me deal with the closing point from the hon. Member for Nottingham East (Nadia Whittome) about Prime Minister’s Question Time. She will recall that the Speaker spends quite a lot of his time semi-threatening Members of the House, saying that they should keep quiet so that the voices and rights of Members on both sides of the House can be respected. Control is exercised, as we all make our views known.

As we close this debate, I want to focus broadly on where we agree. We all agree that, in an ancient democracy such as ours, protest is intrinsic to, and a cornerstone of, our rights. The Government are resolute in defending the rights of freedom of speech and of assembly. We should all be able to take to the streets to express our views on the issues of the day. In doing so, it is inevitable that some will be offended, inconvenienced or put out, and we should all accept that as part of the debate.

However, I think we have all accepted, on both sides of the House, that even in a protest situation, controls can and should be mandated and that there is not an unqualified right. As both Opposition Front Benchers—the hon. Members for Croydon Central (Sarah Jones) and for Glasgow North East (Anne McLaughlin)—have accepted, in Scotland and Wales there is a legal basis for controlling all forms of protest, including noise. All that we are trying to do is give the police the power to do so in challenging and exceptional situations in England as well.

When one person is exercising a right that infringes on the rights of others, whether it involves the use of hate speech, running on to motorways, endangering lives or generating such a cacophony of noise that it causes alarm or distress, the law must be able to step in—as it does, perhaps for a tenant or resident in Croydon. I would be interested in the view of the hon. Member for Croydon Central on this: if the noise that the resident complained about from the neighbours was Bob Dylan protest songs all day and all night in furtherance of a protest in their home, should that just be allowed? [Interruption.] Well, exactly. The point is that we have to be able to qualify these rights and we have to give the police control in exceptional circumstances.

The time has come to say unequivocally to the House of Lords that enough is enough. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Sir Mike Penning) said, this elected House has made its views on the measures crystal clear four times. It is time for the other place to acknowledge that, accept the amendments that the Government have put forward in the spirit of accommodation and let the Bill pass.

Question put.

Tom Pursglove Portrait Tom Pursglove
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I will be as brief as I can, Mr Deputy Speaker.

These are amendments that we have already debated, voted on and sent back to the other place, expressing our dissatisfaction with them.

The world is facing a crisis of migration. An estimated 80 million people are displaced by conflicts and instability around the world. Others seek to move in search of improved economic opportunities. Managing migration and welcoming and effectively supporting those most in need, while protecting borders and closing down the dangerous business of people smuggling is one of the difficult public policy challenges faced by any Government. That is why we have developed the new plan for immigration and this Bill, which is its legislative framework.

Amendments 8B and 8C require one or more returns agreements to be in place with a safe third country before the inadmissibility provisions in clause 15 can be brought into force. As I have said many times before, those in need of protection should claim in the first safe country they reach. The first safe country principle is widely recognised internationally.

Nadia Whittome Portrait Nadia Whittome (Nottingham East) (Lab)
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Under international law, anyone can claim asylum in any country that has signed the 1951 UN refugee convention. That convention makes it clear that people fleeing persecution can reach a country by irregular means if they are unable to use a valid visa. So, given that there is no legal way to come to the UK for the purpose of seeking asylum, does the Minister accept that the Government risk breaking international law?

Tom Pursglove Portrait Tom Pursglove
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The point that I have consistently made is that the British Government act at all times in accordance with their international obligations, both under the European convention on human rights and the refugee convention. Again I make the point, because it bears repeating, that nobody needs to get into a small boat to reach safety. Everybody who is doing so is leaving what are inherently safe countries with fully functioning asylum systems. If people want to come to this country—we have a proud record of providing sanctuary here—they should do so through safe and legal routes. We have a proud record as a Government of providing safe and legal routes, reflecting the fact that there are conflicts and instability in the world and we respond to that.

Fiona Bruce Portrait Fiona Bruce (Congleton) (Con)
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I wish to speak briefly in support of the proposal made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith) in lieu of Lords amendment 26, to which he referred in his impassioned speech. Disappointingly, it cannot be voted on today. If we are to break the business model of the criminal gangs behind modern slavery, we have to increase the number of successful prosecutions. One of the most effective ways to do that is to enable more victims to participate in the pursuit of justice by sharing intelligence and acting as witnesses. Evidence from programmes such as Justice and Care’s victim navigator programme shows that when given wraparound support over a longer period more victims develop the confidence to engage with criminal investigations; 89% of Justice and Care’s supported victims engaged with police at the last published evaluation, which compared with the national average of about a third.

I welcome the commitment that the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Redditch (Rachel Maclean) gave on Report that

“all those who receive a positive conclusive grounds decision and are in need of tailored support will receive appropriate individualised support for a minimum of 12 months.”—[Official Report, 8 December 2021; Vol. 705, c. 427.]

However, to provide victims with the certainty and stability they need, this extended support should be included in the statutory framework.

The Government have taken the positive step of putting support for modern slavery victims in law for the first time in this Bill, but clause 63 is limited to support during the initial recovery period during the national referral mechanism. The Bill offers no support to victims after the point at which someone has been formally recognised as a victim. The Government have already committed to doing this for a minimum of 12 months and it would be a simple matter to add that commitment to the Bill, giving a more comprehensive picture of the full range of support available, and providing victims with greater certainty and stability for their recovery as a result. I hope that Ministers will support the intent behind the amendment in lieu tabled by my right hon. Friend, and I note the Minister’s comment today that the Government are very willing to take these concerns away and have discussions with my right hon. Friend and, I hope, others. I also hope that the concern about the importance of putting the 12-month period into statute will not only be taken away, but acted upon.

Nadia Whittome Portrait Nadia Whittome (Nottingham East) (Lab)
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This Bill is such wide-reaching and deeply flawed legislation that there is so much I could speak on, but in the limited time we have I will focus on Lords amendment 22, which deals with the age assessment of children.

Without that amendment, the Bill will increase the number of children who have to undergo age assessments. These processes are unethical and inaccurate, focusing on vague criteria such as a child’s “appearance and demeanour”. Other, more detailed investigations are, of course, re-traumatising for children. There is a real danger that the measures in the Bill will lead to an increase in the number of children who are wrongfully treated as adults and subsequently neglected by the authorities. That will place some of the most vulnerable children at incredibly high risk of harm, as we have already seen.

In December 2017, Alexander Tekle died by suicide less than a year after he arrived in the UK from Eritrea as an unaccompanied minor. Alex was failed on two fronts. First, he was wrongfully assessed as an adult and placed in adult Home Office accommodation, where he was violently assaulted. Secondly, the different local authorities that were subsequently entrusted with his care failed him miserably, leading him into a spiral of depression and substance abuse. Services again failed to step in and ensure that he was supported to overcome these issues. The uncertainty over Alex’s immigration status also caused persistent distress. In fact, an inquest held earlier this year found that the Home Office’s policies contributed to the spiral that led to his death. What happened to Alex is not an isolated case: there has been an alarming increase in reports of suicide among teenagers who arrived in the UK as unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. It is a pattern of failure. But instead of the Government righting this wrong, children like Alex continue to be treated with suspicion from the moment they set foot in this country.

The Bill does not focus on improving the care of unaccompanied refugee children; in fact, the Home Office seems interested only in building even more barriers. It is particularly cynical that the Department pretends that age assessments are done for young people’s safety when, given the supervision provided in children’s placements, the level of risk is low should a young adult on occasion be placed in one. This contrasts with the hundreds of children who have been put in hotels and forced to share rooms and even beds with adult men they do not know.

The Home Office does not provide any solutions in the Bill. We cannot allow this devastating situation to continue. [Interruption.] Conservative Members may chunter from a sedentary position, but I am talking about something extremely serious: a young boy who committed suicide after Home Office failings. It would be great if they showed a bit of humility. Everyone who professes to care about unaccompanied refugee children should vote in support of Lords amendment 22.

Simon Hoare Portrait Simon Hoare
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It is to be welcomed that there will be no north-south border checks on the island of Ireland. The Minister will know that there is excellent intelligence sharing between the UK, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Irish authorities.

I understand what the Government are trying to do in the Bill, but I am afraid they again show a little bit of a lack of sensitivity or understanding with regard to how the all-island economy works, particularly when it comes to tourism, which is hugely important, as the hon. Member for North Down (Stephen Farry) said. In 2019, 2.245 million visitors came to the island of Ireland and spent £589 million. Such visitors maintain and support 70,800 jobs in Northern Ireland alone. There has been a 90% increase in the number of visitors to the island of Ireland from North America and 60% of all visitors to the island spend nights in both the Republic and the north of Ireland.

I understand what the Minister is trying to do, but he is using a misdirected sledgehammer to crack a non-existent nut, because we have seen no evidence to show that there is systemic abuse of the common travel area whereby people come from the south to the north and then over to GB. There is no evidence for that at all. I suggest the Government go away and have another think about the legislation. It seems to me to be sensible to exempt those who have established their right of residence in the Republic of Ireland from having to have an electronic travel authorisation. They do not need it. A lot of them will move between hospitals and doctors’ surgeries and dentists and between retail and hospitality and all the rest of it. Their bona fides have been recognised by the Republic, whether they were born in the Republic or elsewhere, and that should, through the usual intelligence sharing, be enough.

Visitors from the Irish diaspora of New Zealand, Australia, Canada or North America should be required to have an ETA only if they propose to move from the island of Ireland—irrespective of whether they have landed north or south of the border—to come to GB.

Metropolitan Police: Misogyny and Sexual Harassment

Nadia Whittome Excerpts
Tuesday 8th March 2022

(1 year, 12 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Nadia Whittome Portrait Nadia Whittome (Nottingham East) (Lab)
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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairship, Mrs Cummins.

I thank the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Sarah Olney) for securing this important debate, in particular on International Women’s Day. It might seem odd at first for a Nottingham MP to be speaking in a debate about a police force in another city, but the Metropolitan police’s power and impact go much further than just London. In fact, the Met’s actions have been incredibly damaging to women in my city.

In 2003, an undercover Met officer, Mark Kennedy, was sent to spy on climate activists in Nottingham. He posed as a fellow activist at the Sumac Centre in my constituency, where he deceived one woman, Kate Wilson, into a relationship that lasted almost two years. He went on to deceive other women into sexual relationships until he was exposed by activists in 2010. He was far from alone: more than 20 undercover Met officers are known to have had sexual relationships, some with the knowledge of more senior police officers. At least three fathered children with women they had met undercover. After a 10-year legal battle brought courageously by Kate Wilson, the courts ruled that the Met’s failure to prevent undercover officers entering into sexual relationships amounted to sex discrimination and breached human rights.

Such misogyny is not confined to undercover policing. In 2013, 10 years later, my constituent, Dr Koshika Duff, was arrested for trying to give legal advice to a 15-year-old who was being stop and searched. She was violently strip-searched, while police made derogatory and misogynistic comments about her. They have since been forced to apologise and to pay financial compensation, but it is not yet known whether the officers will face disciplinary action.

I have spoken here about just two examples connected to my constituency, but countless more could be raised. A total of 594 complaints against Met employees for sexual misconduct were made between 2012 and 2018. A recent IOPC report found a shocking culture of misogyny among police officers at Charing Cross station. Again, that is not confined only to the Met. Sue Fish, the former chief constable of Nottinghamshire, agreed that

“it’s not just the odd deviant…what was expressed in those messages in Charing Cross could be in any police station.”

Indeed, the IOPC concluded:

“We believe these incidents are not isolated or simply the behaviour of a few ‘bad apples’.”

Maria Miller Portrait Mrs Miller
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady is making a powerful speech. Does she agree that the procedure within the police, including the Met police, of using anonymity to cover up the identity of people at the end of employment tribunals has to be stopped?

Nadia Whittome Portrait Nadia Whittome
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I thank the right hon. Lady for her intervention. I wholly agree with her.

We must never forget that it was a serving Metropolitan police officer who kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard almost exactly a year ago. It was his fellow Met police officers who used appalling, disproportionate force against women who were gathering on Clapham Common to mourn her death. There were appalling acts of institutional misogyny in the case of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, and there have been many others. For over a year, I have been calling for an independent statutory inquiry into misogyny in the Met police. I hope the Minister will commit to that today.

We should be limiting the powers of the police, not handing them ever wider ones to be used at their discretion, as the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act 2021 has done and as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill proposes. We need to limit the power to stop and search, particularly the ability to strip-search, which is invasive and humiliating and puts women in a vulnerable position.

We must ensure that women who are at particularly high risk of abuse and exploitation by police officers or others are not needlessly criminalised, such as those with addiction issues and those who are homeless or undocumented migrants. Where there are other services that might more appropriately support vulnerable people of all genders, such as victims of domestic and sexual violence or those experiencing mental ill health, those services should be used instead of, or alongside, the police. None of those measures is foolproof, but they aim to reduce the opportunity for police officers to abuse their power and, as the debate has clearly shown, they are badly needed.

Ukraine

Nadia Whittome Excerpts
Tuesday 1st March 2022

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Priti Patel Portrait Priti Patel
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We discuss all issues, some of which I cannot share on the Floor of the House because they are very sensitive in light of the attacks. I know my hon. Friend will respect that. Discussions are taking place constantly, but he is right to highlight just how dangerous, volatile and precarious the situation is. All of us are mindful of that as we work with our counterparts and our colleagues. I am speaking to many of my counterparts nearly every other day, plus ambassadors every single day. The situation is changing and we are hearing different reports. We are working in real time—real time—to provide all the support in the region and in-country in specific ways that can make a difference to people.

Nadia Whittome Portrait Nadia Whittome (Nottingham East) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Someone very dear to me who helped to raise me and who came to this country from Ukraine after the second world war would not have been eligible under any of the Home Secretary’s schemes. Today’s announcement, while welcome, is heavily caveated and still falls far short of what is needed. I want the Prime Minister to honour the words he spoke to me last week in this Chamber and put in place meaningful support for all those fleeing Ukraine. When will the Home Office start waiving visas and not just waving flags?

Priti Patel Portrait Priti Patel
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I refer the hon. Lady to what I have said already in the House about the practical routes we are putting in place. [Interruption.] She can shake her head. I am sorry that she wants to be political, but we are putting in some very powerful routes that we will support. We do not know how many people will come over, but those routes have been developed in conjunction not just with our colleagues in the Ukrainian Government and other counterparts, but from the actual needs of people from what we are hearing in the region. She has heard me say very clearly that there are no caps on numbers.

We are creating schemes for people to come over, but that takes time. Not only that, but it also takes time to work with our colleagues in the region and work to meet their specific needs. I would like to think that the hon. Lady would respect that. It is not about the British Government just saying that we are starting up the scheme without actually working with people in-country or in the region on how it can be operationalised and how to ensure that it meets the needs of the people of Ukraine.