Draft Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Investigative Powers of Prosecutors: Code of Practice) Order 2024 Draft Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Search, Recovery of Crypto Assets and Investigations: Codes of Practice) Regulations 2024 Draft Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and Terrorism Act 2000 (Certain Information Orders: Code of Practice) Regulations 2024 Draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Code of Practice for Authorised Officers) Orders 2024

Sarah Owen Excerpts
Tuesday 16th April 2024

(2 months ago)

General Committees
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Alex Norris Portrait Alex Norris (Nottingham North) (Lab/Co-op)
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It is a pleasure to serve with you in the Chair, Dr Huq. All four of the instruments before us are about ensuring that the authorities have the tools they need to combat criminals and terrorists in a digital world by giving them the powers they need to investigate, search for and seize crypto assets. As the Minister says, we know that this is a growing, fast-moving and changing area of crime and criminality, and it is vital that the relevant authorities have the powers they need to keep pace.

I will refer to each set of regulations in turn, but let me say at the outset that the Opposition do not intend to oppose them. The principles underpinning the instruments were debated during the passage of the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 and the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023, and I will not repeat arguments made than. It is important that the authorities have codes of practice in place to guide the use of the new powers, so that we can find the appropriate balance between individual liberty and collective security.

First, under the Proceeds Of Crime Act 2002, there are regulations concerning codes of practice on the investigative powers of prosecutors, the search and recovery of crypto assets, and investigations. The reforms will enable officers to seize crypto assets and other property during the course of an investigation without having first arrested someone for an offence. They will also enable officers to seize crypto asset-related items and enable the courts to better enforce unpaid confiscation orders against a defendant’s crypto assets, which is really important.

Can the Minister clarify whether non-fungible content is included in the phrase crypto asset, which is a well-established term? Non-fungible tokens were not something that interested me, so my position is not a universal one, but they were of some public interest. I know that they hold some value because they are bought and sold, although not in the way they were as recently as a year ago. I am interested to see if they are covered. I think they are, and rightly so. In general, these provisions are an important clarification of authorities’ powers, so that individuals who are subject to those authorities’ investigative powers will have clarity about what they can and cannot do, which must be right.

Secondly, in relation to the POCA 2002 and the Terrorism Act 2000, we have regulations concerning a code of practice for information orders. The regulations deal with new information order powers to support the NCA’s operational strategic analysis of information relevant to money laundering or suspected money laundering and/or terrorist financing or suspected terrorist financing. That seems clear and sensible to us. There are also regulations in relation to the Terrorism Act 2000 concerning a code of practice for authorised officers; again, the clarity there is to be welcomed. There are reforms to the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, again enabling officers to seize and detain crypto assets, so I hope that the Minister will also give clarity around the status of NFTs and non-fungible content in that context.

As we have said previously in debates on these matters, we welcome the Government bringing forward measures on crypto assets. The technology is changing and fast-paced, and so is the usage of criminals in that space. We must have a digital approach, not an analogue approach, to freezing and seizing assets, and this instrument has found the balance.

Sarah Owen Portrait Sarah Owen (Luton North) (Lab)
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My hon. Friend is making an excellent speech. I want to come in on that particular point, because much attention has been given to terrorist and criminal organisations, but what about individuals? A number of individuals, including some of my constituents, have been defrauded of cryptocurrency, and I am intrigued to see what we can do to support them.

Alex Norris Portrait Alex Norris
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My hon. Friend makes an important intervention. We know of individuals whose lives have been ruined. They may have lost their business or their house because of such transactions. Ensuring that the authorities have the relevant investigative powers to follow these new types of crime is really important. We can have a degree of confidence that these instruments move us forward in that direction.

I have a couple more questions to the Minister to get some reassurance; they follow on neatly from what my hon. Friend said. It is important that we ensure that the relevant authorities have the right powers, and the right capacity, resources, knowledge and experience. There has been a consultation on the codes of practice, but what consultation or conversations has the Minister or his right hon. Friend the Security Minister had with relevant authorities, such as the NCA, about their capacity to deal with this growing threat?

Similarly, on consultation more generally, each of the explanatory memorandums to the instruments has a section 10 on consultation. A consultation clearly has taken place, and it seems to have been a valuable one. It makes note of some of the changes that have happened as a result, which is always a positive, but was there anything in those consultations that the Government were not minded to accept? Can the Minister tell us any of those things? I will not say anything more than that, but hopefully he will be able to address those questions.

Oral Answers to Questions

Sarah Owen Excerpts
Monday 26th February 2024

(3 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alex Cunningham Portrait Alex Cunningham (Stockton North) (Lab)
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8. What steps his Department is taking to identify young people most at risk of being drawn into violent crime.

Sarah Owen Portrait Sarah Owen (Luton North) (Lab)
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19. What steps his Department is taking to identify young people most at risk of being drawn into violent crime.

Laura Farris Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Laura Farris)
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Since 2019, we have invested £160 million in 20 violence reduction units across England and Wales, and a further £55 million has been committed this year. Violence reduction units have reached more than 270,000 young people. They bring together specialists from health, the police, local government and community organisations not just to tackle violent crime, but to identify the young people who are most at risk of being drawn into it and provide evidence-based interventions to support them.

Laura Farris Portrait Laura Farris
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I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that, under our tackling organised exploitation programme, we are keenly aware of the difference between victims and criminals, and that children are being drawn into criminal enterprises and gangs at ever-younger ages. I want to provide reassurance that where we have evidence of that happening, the child should be referred through the national referral mechanism—the framework for identifying victims of exploitation by county lines groups and equivalents. That can be done with or without the child’s consent, and it provides the police with a vital tool not just to protect the child but to disrupt the criminal activity in which they are being enlisted.

Sarah Owen Portrait Sarah Owen
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Last week, Bedfordshire police reported that two drug dealers who had trafficked a vulnerable 15-year-old child from Luton to sell drugs were sentenced under modern slavery laws. Although that conviction is of course welcome, I think we can all agree that this is not just slavery; it is the despicable act of grooming children into a life of drugs, gangs and violence. Why do not the Government back our plans for a new specific offence to lock up such criminals for exactly what they are doing and stop them exploiting children and young people for a life of crime?

Laura Farris Portrait Laura Farris
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I agree with much of what the hon. Lady says. The Prime Minister implemented new measures to deal with child sexual exploitation in April of last year, but part of that deals with organised exploitation, which goes wider. I am glad to hear that those two criminals were convicted under modern slavery laws. I want to reassure her that, under our Criminal Justice Bill, which is making its way through the House, grooming gangs will receive enhanced sentences.

Knife and Sword Ban

Sarah Owen Excerpts
Tuesday 6th February 2024

(4 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Nickie Aiken Portrait Nickie Aiken
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I agree with my hon. Friend. As the largest city in the country with more than 9 million people, London will always have higher statistics, but it is being let down. Londoners have constantly been let down for eight years because of the current Mayor’s failure to get a grip of knife crime. Too many families across London have been affected by knife crime and have lost their beloved children.

There were 156 knife offences in December 2023 alone. That will not stop unless we get a grip of it. It has to be a holistic approach. It is not just about stricter sentences; they have a part to play in the criminal justice system, but we must get to the nub of why young people carry knives in the first place. I have always believed that someone who carries a knife is more likely to use one. I am so concerned that today, too many young people feel that they have to carry a knife for their own protection. We must persuade our young people that there is an alternative. We have heard about different approaches from several Members. We should learn from what is happening in Scotland, which has a lot to offer.

We need a public health and community approach. When I was cabinet member for public protection at Westminster council in 2013, I was shocked to find that Westminster—a borough that people think of as affluent, with areas such as Mayfair, Belgravia and the west end—was No. 3 in the Met’s serious youth violence table in 2013. We were even higher than Hackney. I remember going to see the then deputy Mayor for policing, now my right hon. Friend the Member for North West Hampshire (Kit Malthouse), who told me that if I did not get on top of the problem immediately, it would only get worse, and it would never change.

I immediately worked with my brilliant officers at Westminster City Council and the police to establish the first ever integrated gangs unit. I set up a scheme called “your choice”, because I wanted to send a message to young people that they had a choice: they could be involved in gangs and knife crime, but that would end either in the morgue or in prison. There were alternative ways, where young people could work with us. I was clear that we had to understand why young people were involved. I also sent a message to the parents. Often, parents do not know what their young people are getting involved in when they are out, and they do not know how to handle the problem. I offered a helping hand to parents. I am delighted to say that we went straight back down those tables within a year to where we are usually, around 16th out of 19.

There needs to be a full approach, where all the agencies work together. The integrated gangs unit included the police, probation, special needs, schools and social workers. Interestingly, we discovered that a lot of young people on the periphery of knife crime had speech and language issues. They could not properly communicate, and they had not really progressed since primary school. They had had a nightmare moving into secondary school, and they had been lost in the system. We grabbed those young men, and I am delighted that we improved the situation. We have to work together. It should not be a political issue but a community issue where we all work together, as our young people deserve.

We have heard about violence reduction units. We have one in London, run by a very impressive woman, Lib Peck, whom I have known for a long time. She is not getting the backing and seriousness from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. In 2018, he held a knife crime summit just before the local elections. The then Home Secretary attended, as did the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and the deputy Mayor for policing. The Mayor chaired it—he did not speak; he was not held to account. I will never forget that he never allowed himself to be held to account on the situation. He has got to be held to account.

Sarah Owen Portrait Sarah Owen (Luton North) (Lab)
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We talk about accountability, but it works both ways. I agree with everyone who has said that the result is not political, as it affects all political stripes, but we have got here because of political decision making. The hon. Member talks about children not being able to speak or read or write—that is the political decision of 14 years of this Government eroding our education system. We talk about not enough resources for the police—that is a decision to erode community policing. Will the hon. Member take some responsibility for 14 years of this?

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Sarah Owen Portrait Sarah Owen (Luton North) (Lab)
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It is an honour to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry South (Zarah Sultana) and to be the last Back-Bench contributor to this debate, which on the whole—with one exception—has been thoughtful, insightful, heartfelt and really sensitive.

I rise to speak today on behalf of my constituents in Luton North, who I know care a great deal about knife crime—when I say “care”, I mean that they are worried and scared about knife crime. There is no doubt that knife crime has become a national crisis, increasing by 77% since 2015. It is a scourge on our society and it has tragic and often fatal consequences. Knife crime not only takes lives, but devastates families, destroys futures and ambitions, and has a detrimental ripple effect on all our communities. Unfortunately, we know the impact of this all too well in Luton, as my hon. Friend the Member for Luton South (Rachel Hopkins) has already highlighted.

In September 2023 alone, in just one month, there were five stabbings in our town, one of which tragically led to my constituent, 16-year-old Ashraf Habimana, losing his life. Two loving parents lost their son, Ashraf’s teachers and friends lost his bright and energetic personality, and our community has lost another young person under appallingly violent and, importantly, avoidable circumstances. His family and friends now have to grieve the loss of Ashraf and wait hopefully to see justice served, but the lasting trauma of this event will remain with them and our community forever.

Two years ago, another 16-year-old boy, Humza Hussain, was stabbed to death outside school—what another tragic loss, what another waste of life, what another future stolen. Our young people are most at risk when it comes to knife crime. In the year ending September 2022, there were more than 46,000 recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales, with young men and boys most likely to be both the perpetrators and victims of this crime.

I recently had the honour of meeting staff from Bedfordshire’s brilliant violence and exploitation reduction unit with my hon. Friend the Member for Luton South to find out more about their “Just Drop It” knife campaign. At its heart is the voice and experience of a mum, Roseann, who tragically lost her young son, Azaan “AJ” Kaleem, in 2018. Too often nothing is done when there are signs that a young person is getting into trouble, being groomed by gangs, or falling into danger online. To me, the important part of today’s debate is about the child exploitation side of it—the side of it on which this Government have lagged behind. I do not care whether it has “Labour” or “Conservative” on the front of it. Parents, families and communities just want it done. To me, the people who prey on innocent young lives, regardless of their intentions—whether it is crime, sexual exploitation or drugs—are all the same and we should treat them exactly like that.

When teenagers say that they do not feel safe, or that they are struggling themselves with trauma or abuse, no one listens and no help is provided. That is what we are up against. The “Just Drop It” strategy aims to tackle these issues, providing accessible opportunities for young people to help them achieve their potential, ensuring that they feel supported and safe, and helping them to realise that there is an alternative to a life of knife crime and violence. All of these young boys and men leave families mourning the loss of life and the loss of a future that should have been bright and, importantly, safe.

The brilliant organisation, Boxing Saves Lives, works with hundreds of young people in Luton. It was set up and is now run by the inspirational JP, who often highlights the work that rightly goes on tackling violence against women and girls, and asks what about violence against boys and men. I could not agree with him more. Far too many young boys are exposed to violence and fear from a very young age. What is the Minister doing to tackle that? If the Government are taking any action, why is it not working?

If these deaths were as a result of a physical illness killing our young people, teams of doctors and researchers would be working day and night to find a cure. But we already know the cure; we know the lessons that need to be learned. The cure is all the things that have been stripped from our communities over the past 14 years: decent community policing; youth centres; decent schools; Sure Start centres; decent housing; mental health support; and tackling poverty. As my hon. Friend the Member for Luton South says, shockingly, there are more food banks than police stations.

The results of knife crime have no political stripe, but how we have got here does. These were all political choices that led to the perfect storm of knife crime that we see in our society today. When we held community meetings after young Ashraf’s death, hundreds of people came and they said, “Here we are again”. Sadly, they were right. Sadly, until all the things that we know work are put in place, we will be here yet again. When the Minister stands at the Dispatch Box, I ask him please not to give us more warm words that lead to cold comfort for those families, as I know that it is only a matter of time before we are consoling yet another mother in Luton. Families are losing their children, children are losing their friends and whole parts of the country are losing their future. That situation should shame a Government of any colour, so I ask the Minister again please not to get up at that Dispatch Box and tell us that all is rosy, because it is not.

I am grateful for the fact that, all the while this Tory Government fail our communities, we have people in Luton such as Haleema Ali, who is fundraising for critical bleed kits in our town, and the Wingman Mentors, a not-for-profit organisation that works with vulnerable young people who are on the cusp of getting involved with crime, carrying knives, and serious violence. It has launched a campaign to install critical bleed kits in strategic locations across our town. The kits contain essential supplies to control severe bleeding effectively and can be used in the event of an emergency incident, whether a road traffic incident, a dog attack or a knife crime. I would be grateful to hear whether the Minister will be supporting that campaign. The organisation’s founders, Si and Michelle, believe that those kits are just as vital and lifesaving as defibrillators. They are also delivering training for people to familiarise themselves with bleed kits and their practical use, to give those who may be on the scene as zero responders the necessary skills possibly to save a life. I pay tribute to the vital work that Wingman Mentors and others are doing, but they should not have to rely on donations and funding from local businesses to make the installation of bleed kits a reality.

Yes, we have heard that knife crime is a cross-party problem and that we have to work across organisations and across parties—and I am happy to do so. However, the Government in their response to this issue have been wholly inadequate. The serious violence strategy is more than five years out of date. The serious violence taskforce was disbanded and everyone knows from their own communities that too little is being done to support young people to move away from violence and crime. Why is it that we have to continue with this farce of police funding in which Bedfordshire Police is classified as a rural police force? We have Luton, Dunstable and Bedford all within that area. Will the Minister please dare to comment on that and say when the farce of rural funding for Bedfordshire Police will end?

Much more needs to be done and we need a proper plan with meaningful funding behind it to make these changes. I am therefore proud to support Labour’s commitment to tackling this issue at its source, establishing a new Young Futures programme to stop young people being drawn into crime, implementing a total crackdown on the availability of knives on our streets and imposing tougher sentences for perpetrators. Knife crime and violence have no place in our society. We all have a responsibility to tackle the problem within our communities, but tackling knife crime no longer just means learning lessons; it means acting on them so that we are not standing here again speaking of our constituents, of loved ones tragically lost to knife crime and of those left behind who are traumatised and changed forever.

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Chris Philp Portrait The Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire (Chris Philp)
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I am grateful to have the opportunity to talk about this important topic. I thank Members on both sides who have contributed thoughtfully to this afternoon’s debate, which is of huge importance to our constituents up and down the country.

Too many families have been touched by the tragedy of knife crime and the unspeakable agony of losing a loved one. In fact, by coincidence—it was arranged before this debate was scheduled—I met yesterday with a few families from across London who have lost sons, brothers and, in one case, a daughter to knife crime. That group of families included the immediate family and cousins of Elianne Andam, a 15-year-old girl from Croydon—the borough that I represent in Parliament—who was tragically murdered on Wednesday 27 September last year. Her alleged assailant is now in custody. I remember attending Elianne’s funeral in Croydon a few weeks later. The outpouring of grief from the whole community, particularly from her parents, Michael and Dorcas, and her little brother, Kobi, moved everybody who attended on that Saturday morning a couple of months ago—I think more than 1,000 people were in attendance.

Nothing illustrated more powerfully how important this topic is than seeing those family members and that whole community united in grief at the loss of Elianne. Of course, like the Andam family, too many families up and down the country, in London and elsewhere, have suffered tragedy in that way. It is up to all of us in public life—whether here in Parliament, in city government, police and crime commissioners, in local councils and so on—to do everything we possibly can to deal with this issue. It is in that spirit that many Members have approached the debate.

We have heard quite a lot about figures. Everyone knows that we need to do more, but any informed debate has to start with a proper understanding of what the figures are. A number of Opposition Members have quoted the figure of knife crime being up 77% since 2015. That is a police recorded crime figure. A number of other figures are available. The Office for National Statistics says:

“police recorded crime does not tend to be a good indicator of general trends in crime”

for higher-volume offences—not my words, but those of the ONS. Let me explain why: police recorded crime depends on the propensity of the public to report it and on how good a job the police do at recording it when it is reported.

Sarah Owen Portrait Sarah Owen
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Will the Minister give way?

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Chris Philp Portrait Chris Philp
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I did promise to give way to the hon. Member for Luton North, so I will do so.

Sarah Owen Portrait Sarah Owen
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I thank the Minister for being generous with his time. On police recorded crime, the 77% figure is surely the bare minimum given that the level of under-reporting, particularly among young people, is extremely high. Does he agree that the Government’s claim that knife crime has somehow gone down will sit like a bucket of cold sick with communities such as mine, which know that the scourge of knife crime is rife under the Tory Government?

Illegal Migration

Sarah Owen Excerpts
Monday 5th June 2023

(1 year ago)

Commons Chamber
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Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
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I can give the hon. Lady some advice for free. The best way to stop the use of hotels is to stop the boats, and I encourage her to back our legislation, which will enable us to stop the boats and stop the use of hotels.

Sarah Owen Portrait Sarah Owen (Luton North) (Lab)
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I want to raise the use of divisive language by the Home Secretary throughout this statement on immigration, and a few weeks ago when she described multiculturalism as a “recipe for communal disaster”. As a product of multiculturalism myself and representing Luton North, a town proudly multicultural, let me tell her that she is wrong. There are thousands like me from multicultural families. Does she really want to deny our right to exist? Is not the truth that the use of such vile rhetoric is just a cynical ploy to turn people against each other, rather than on those truly responsible for the backlog, the boats and the needless deaths—this Conservative Government?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
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I prefer to focus on the problem and the solutions to the problem. The problem we have here—one on which the British public overwhelmingly support the Government’s plans—is to stop the boats. The Leader of the Opposition does not even really want to talk about it, but this Prime Minister and this Government have delivered a plan, and are delivering on our plan to stop the boats and to deliver for the British people.

Police Uplift Programme

Sarah Owen Excerpts
Wednesday 26th April 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Philp Portrait Chris Philp
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I join my right hon. Friend in calling for the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan to reconsider his unwise plans. As I said, the Metropolitan police has by far the highest per capita funding of any force in the country. I do not think any of us want police stations to close, so I join her in calling on Sadiq Khan to reconsider.

Sarah Owen Portrait Sarah Owen (Luton North) (Lab)
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After years of devastating cuts, any extra police officers are welcome, but it is not just about numbers; it is about quality and experience too. Can the Minister confirm how many new police officers are student officers, not yet qualified, such as the 300 in Bedfordshire? Does he agree that Luton, Bedford and Dunstable are clearly not rural areas? When will the farce of funding Bedfordshire police as a rural force end, so that the police finally have the resources to keep people safe in Luton?

Chris Philp Portrait Chris Philp
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As I am sure the hon. Lady knows, Bedfordshire police has additional support through the police special grant, giving it extra money particularly to fight organised criminality. I corresponded with Bedfordshire’s excellent police and crime commissioner on that topic just recently. I am glad that she raised the question of police officer numbers in Bedford, because Bedfordshire has around 200 extra officers compared with the number under the last Labour Government.

Illegal Migration Bill

Sarah Owen Excerpts
2nd reading
Monday 13th March 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Sarah Owen Portrait Sarah Owen (Luton North) (Lab)
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We have heard a shamefully grim level of debate from some Government Members. The debate has lacked compassion and logic, but I want to start on a positive. Last night, something truly historic happened: Ke Huy Quan became the first east and south-east Asian actor to win an Oscar. He said:

“My journey started on a boat. I ended up in a refugee camp….They say stories like this only happen in the movies…This is the American dream.”

Why is that story of success not a British dream, especially when people such Mo Farah have had a similar experience, filling stadiums, smashing records and being wrapped in a Union flag? Why is that hope and aspiration crushed before it even starts? Because of fear and failure —13 years of Tory failure, to be exact; a failure to provide any sense of international leadership or to negotiate workable deals with other countries. And at home, this Government are making 40% fewer asylum decisions a year than they were in 2015, leaving 160,000 people waiting in limbo for much longer and pushing up accommodation costs. This immigration Bill is based on fear—the fear of the Prime Minister and Home Secretary losing a grip on their own party.

People of faith often speak about the opposite of fear—hope. And they have spoken out against the Bill. The Board of Deputies has shared its concerns and, earlier today, I met members of the Jain community, whose focus is on compassion for all living things, not on this. Last June, all the bishops in the House of Lords signed a letter raising alarm about the Rwanda policy. Today, the Archbishop of York joined the Muslim Council of Britain and 350 other charities and faith organisations to condemn the Bill, saying it was “immoral and inept”.

Normally, that level of criticism would make a Government stop and think, but we are not in ordinary times. Instead, we have yet another Prime Minister who is so desperate to stay in power and keep the Conservative party together that he is willing to tear a country apart. That is the base level of the Bill—the Government blaming others and reaching for unworkable, inhumane covers for their own wretched failure.

My grandparents’ generation, which fought in the war, will not be fooled, and neither will generation Z. Last week, Luton Sixth Form College celebrated its culture day, which was beautiful, exciting and harmonious. Those young people know that there is strength in diversity, not fear. That is true strength. What we hear today is fear, the only card that this clapped-out Conservative Government have left to play. As our faith communities, the generation that fought against division and hatred, and our young people all know, Britain is so much better than this Bill, and our country is so much better than the Conservative Government give it credit for.

None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
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Crime and Neighbourhood Policing

Sarah Owen Excerpts
Tuesday 31st January 2023

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
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My right hon. Friend is right—there is huge innovation and good practice around the country when it comes to local policing. Police forces are using powers that the Government have given them, and using the numbers and resources we have given them, to be a bit more responsive and more visible, and to ensure that people feel safer and that crime is falling.

Sarah Owen Portrait Sarah Owen (Luton North) (Lab)
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Will the Home Secretary give way?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will carry on and come back to the hon. Lady. From Greater Manchester to Kent, and from the Thames valley to the west midlands, on my visits around the country I have seen so many brave men and women join the police, coming forward in their droves to protect the public. On behalf of the British people, I thank them. Nineteen forces have already hit record levels, and the Met, Kent, Norfolk, South Wales, Suffolk, Warwickshire and West Yorkshire police all have the highest numbers of police officers in their history—higher than in 2019, higher than in 2015, higher than in 2010, and higher than the years when Labour was in charge.

Points of Order

Sarah Owen Excerpts
Monday 28th November 2022

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for that point of order. I am not responsible for social media, oddly enough, as he may appreciate.

Sarah Owen Portrait Sarah Owen (Luton North) (Lab)
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Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I totally respect and fully take on board the advice from Mr Speaker’s office for conduct in this Chamber, but outside this place thousands of people are struggling to pay their mortgage or to afford one home, let alone 17, and they may have found that not declarable, but relevant. I would be grateful for your advice—[Interruption.] I would be grateful for your advice—[Interruption.]

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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Order. The hon. Lady has the right to have her say—[Interruption.] Members should not challenge me.

Sarah Owen Portrait Sarah Owen
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I would be grateful, Madam Deputy Speaker, for your advice on how Members like me should respond when the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Paul Howell) tells me to “shut up” in this Chamber, where I speak for my constituents. Now he is attempting to shut me up online as well. What message does this send to women who want to be in politics when they see men like that? [Interruption.]

Sarah Owen Portrait Sarah Owen
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Do you want to tell me to sit down out there?

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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Order. I say to the hon. Gentleman that that is not how we want to behave.

Asylum Seekers Accommodation and Safeguarding

Sarah Owen Excerpts
Monday 7th November 2022

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Robert Jenrick Portrait Robert Jenrick
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I would be very happy to meet my hon. Friend so we can discuss the issue and he can represent the views of his constituents. I can inform the House that I have agreed with my officials at the Home Office that, as a matter of course, all Members of Parliament should be informed of new facilities being opened in their constituency ahead of time. All local authorities should be informed and proper engagement undertaken with them so that we can better understand the specific issues and provide the support that might be needed. It is not right that MPs and councils find out on social media or third hand and I intend to bring that to an end.

Sarah Owen Portrait Sarah Owen (Luton North) (Lab)
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Some are heralding the horrors at Manston as the death of compassionate conservatism. The rest of us knew it never existed, or at least not for a very long time. Since the last Prime Minister took office just weeks ago, we have seen the Home Secretary describe people fleeing war as invading our country. Lethal levels of overcrowding at the Manston camp, traumatised people dumped at Victoria station with nowhere to sleep and child refugees sexually assaulted—is that the compassion that the Prime Minister speaks of? If not, how will those shameful examples be rectified?

Robert Jenrick Portrait Robert Jenrick
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The hon. Lady should pay closer attention to what is actually happening. I have visited Manston and met members of staff who are supporting those individuals at Western Jet Foil. I spent Saturday night at our immigration removal centre in west London, and in every one of those situations Border Force, Home Office, military and other personnel are providing decent, compassionate care to individuals who are coming to this country. But humanity and decency does not mean naivety, and that is where we take a different approach from the hon. Lady. Some 30% of those who have crossed the channel this year alone have come from Albania, which is a demonstrably safe country. We have to draw a distinction, or else we simply will not be able to help people who do deserve our care and support.

Community Payback

Sarah Owen Excerpts
Tuesday 28th June 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ellie Reeves Portrait Ellie Reeves
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The huge fall started years before the pandemic in 2017, and it has continued since. No one had heard of covid in 2017, so it is disingenuous to suggest that it is all because of covid.

Sarah Owen Portrait Sarah Owen (Luton North) (Lab)
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The Government Front Benchers are laughing and using the pandemic as an excuse, but does my hon. Friend not agree that during the pandemic, they should have been focusing on catching criminals, rather than giving them money?

Ellie Reeves Portrait Ellie Reeves
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I thank my hon. Friend for that point. It is right that this fall started years before the pandemic.

Some 25% fewer offenders finished community sentences in 2021 than did in 2017. Many community sentences were terminated because offenders went on to commit further offences, but others ended because the lack of supervision meant that they could choose not to turn up with impunity. By the end of November last year, more than 13,000 criminals had not completed their allotted hours of unpaid work within 12 months of being sentenced by a court, but the Government do not even know how many unpaid work hours have been written off because the resources were not in place for them to be completed within 12 months.

The most embarrassing statistic is that there has been a threefold rise in “independent” unpaid work since the end of lockdown. In case Conservative Members are unclear about what that means, I will spell it out for them. While Ministers have been hounding civil servants back into the office, they have been letting thousands of offenders work from home. The Prime Minister wanted to see streets full of hi-vis chain gangs, but instead his Lord Chancellor decided to let criminals finish their sentences on Zoom. What next—flexitime for burglars? Season ticket loans for bank robbers? Yet again, the Conservatives are letting criminals off and letting victims down.

Working from home defeats the whole object of community payback, which is supposed to be visible to communities and victims. That is part of the reason why trust in our criminal justice system is at rock bottom. The public cannot see police on the streets because the station has been shut and officers have been sacked.