Crackdown on statue vandalism: Justice Secretary Robert Buckland pledges new laws to protect monuments with tougher sentences for perpetrators after campaign by 120 Tory MPs
- Robert Buckland says laws against desecration of memorials are ‘inadequate’
- MPs will present a proposed Desecration of War Memorials Bill this week
- Justice Secretary Mr Buckland said he ‘fully agrees’ with the bill’s objectives
The Justice Secretary says laws prohibiting the desecration of war memorials are ‘inadequate’ and has pledged to make sure vandalism is properly punished.
Robert Buckland said there is ‘no justification’ for writing political slogans on the statue of Winston Churchill or climbing atop the Cenotaph to burn the Union Jack – adding that the Government will bring in legislation to allow harsher punishments.
Following a campaign by more than 120 Conservative MPs, backbenchers will present the proposed Desecration of War Memorials Bill this week, The Telegraph reports.
Mr Buckland said he met with the group earlier this week and ‘fully agrees’ with the bill’s objectives – and he pledged to make sure that acts of vandalism causing ‘widespread disgust’ are punished.
Robert Buckland has pledged to make sure that acts of vandalism causing ‘widespread disgust’ are punished with the introduction of laws to prevent the violation of memorials, religious headstones and statues – such as that of Winston Churchill
Mr Buckland (pictured) said there is ‘ no justification’ for writing political slogans on the statue of Winston Churchill or climbing atop the Cenotaph to burn the Union Jack
Ministers have been considering legislating to make desecrating war memorials carry a sentence of up to ten years in prison.
Mr Buckland has said that someone who vandalises headstones can face a sentence of just three months due to maximum terms being largely dependent on the monetary value of the damage – but if it is more than £5,000 the case can go to Crown Court where a sentence of ten years can be handed down.
The Justice Secretary writes: ‘This means that a vandal who breaks into a cemetery and destroys 9 headstones worth £500 each can only be sentenced to 3 months imprisonment. This can’t be right, especially when so many of our war memorials are modest and of little monetary value.
‘But they clearly have enormous symbolic value, which is not something that can be measured in pounds, shillings and pence.’
He adds: ‘Now is an opportune moment to think about memorials more broadly and make sure that all acts of vandalism that cause widespread disgust can be appropriately punished by the courts.’
He suggested that plaques to ‘heroes like PC Keith Palmer’ – a police officer who died trying to halt a terror attack on Parliament – were ‘surely deserving of additional protection’.
Earlier this week statues dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela emerged once again in Parliament Square after workers removed metal boards covering the leaders
Workers take down the boarding and scaffolding around the Nelson Mandela statue on Parliament Square, London, June 18
Statues and monuments have become topics of debate – and in many cases, targets of vandalism – in the wake of global Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd in the United States.
Earlier this week statues dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela emerged once again in Parliament Square after workers removed metal boards covering the leaders.
Workers also dismantled the covering of Sir Winston Churchill’s statue, which was boarded up on June 12 after it was daubed with graffiti accusing him of being a ‘racist’.
Black Lives Matter protesters have now marched on Britain’s cities for the fourth consecutive weekend, with hundreds of demonstrators assembling in Hyde Park before gathering in Parliament Square.