As many of you know a cross-party effort has been underway to ensure that emergency service animals are given protections in law against attacks. Currently, if they are harmed they are treated with the same rights as a broken window in law.
Following the question from another member in the Commons I wanted to seek assurances that the Government would support this Bill. I was disappointed to hear that the Government minister could not give that assurance.
Finn’s Law – which I am a co-sponsor of – hopes to bring about a new criminal charge for those who attack or kill service animals. Currently, service animals – such as police dogs – are treated as property and therefore when a case is brought forward it is considered on the financial value of the animal and not any other measure. These animals often will undertake tasks that humans cannot or will not.
Recently, Finn’s Law was introduced to the House but the minister instructed for it to be blocked. I wanted a decent explanation as to why this sensible measures, which has cross-party support, was blocked.
Before Christmas it was announced that Oakhill Young Offenders Institute was failing on multiple measures. This is a site for some of our most troubled young offenders and we should be ensuring that we are providing a rehabilitation facility.
In March 2017, an officer suffered serious injuries after being attacked by detainees on a football pitch. This site is run by the private firm G4S. Each inspection has shown that G4S cannot manage the site.
This is an example of a private firm which is out of its depth. I asked the minister what does it take for a contract to be stripped from a firm when it has been shown to fail multiple times. Sadly, the minister stated that the contract has years left to run. I believe that if a firm is failing their duty of care its contractual arrangements with the Government should be reviewed and changed as necessary.
Reform prisons were announced with much fanfare by the Government as a way to tackle the deterioration in our prisons and to ensure that prison governors had the powers they needed to cater for the needs of the prisoners, the prison officers and families to improve rehabilitation.
A trail was put in place with a small number of prisons to demonstrate how these prisons would work. However, one of these prisons, HMP Holme House, has been in the news as a recent investigation found that it had a “very serious drug problem.” All along I have stated that it has been unclear who would be responsible if something went wrong in the reform prison. So today I asked the Secretary of State who was responsible for this failing: the governor, the head of the justice department civil service or himself.