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Darren backs second reading of Modern Slavery Bill

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has signed a cross-party letter sent to The Times supporting the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill:

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Dear Sir,

We welcome the Government’s plans to improve support for victims of modern slavery. But their limited proposals are inadequate.

This problem would be addressed directly by the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill, scheduled for Second Reading today (23rd November) in the House of Commons.

The Bill would provide a guaranteed period of 12 months support after someone is confirmed as a victim and, for those who need it, the right to remain in the UK during that year so they can receive the help they need.

Long term support is crucial. Support prevents re-trafficking and allows victims time to rebuild their lives. It also gives them stability enabling them to give evidence against their traffickers, greatly increasing the chance of convictions.

We have a golden opportunity to create a truly world class system of victim support. We urge the Government to give its full support to the Bill before it runs out of time.

Yours sincerely,

Lord McColl of Dulwich CBE; Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP; Kevin Hyland OBE; Baroness Redfern; Lord Kennedy of Southwark; Lord Hogan-Howe QPM; Lord Elton TD; Kate Green MP; Barry Sheerman MP; Baroness Newlove; Jon Cruddas MP; Baroness Kennedy of Cradley; Baroness Thornton; Rt. Hon Baroness Butler-Sloss GBE; Carolyn Harris MP; Catherine West MP; Baroness Howe of Idlicote CBE; Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP; Jonathan Edwards MP; Kelvin Hopkins MP; Marie Rimmer MP; Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP; Baroness Stroud; Ben Lake MP; Helen Hayes MP; Ruth George MP; Vernon Coaker MP; Caroline Lucas MP; Heidi Allen MP; Lord Hylton; Kerry McCarthy MP; Helen Goodman MP; Sarah Champion MP; Jess Phillips MP; Baroness Sheehan; Ann Coffey MP; Baroness Hamwee; Gareth Snell MP; Daniel Zeichner MP; Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws QC; Bishop Alastair Redfern; Anne Marie Morris MP; Jim McMahon MP; Darren Jones MP; Tim Farron MP; Lord Dubs; Kate Osamor MP; Diana Johnson MP; Baroness Cox; Rt Hon David Lammy MP; Fiona Bruce MP; Lord Alton of Liverpool (Trustee, Arise Foundation); Jim Cunningham MP; Alex Norris MP; Siobhain McDonagh MP; Stuart McDonald MP; Lord Skinkwin; Charlie Elphicke MP; Andrew Selous MP; Gillian Keegan MP;

Darren said:

“I have championed the rights of victims of modern slavery and trafficking since my election in June 2017. This has included raising the rights of victims at a debate in Westminster Hall, calling for new anti Modern Slavery measures to be trialled in Bristol and hosting a Business Forum to raise awareness of modern slavery in supply chains. I have made it my mission to highlight modern slavery, support victims and drive this horrific crime out of Bristol – I therefore fully support the second reading of the Modern Slavery Bill”.

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Darren asks Minister about ‘sex for rent’ scandal

Darren Jones MP has received a response to his Written Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Justice following the BBC Inside Out West’s undercover investigation into ‘sex for rent’ in Bristol.

Darren Jones MP said:

” I was disgusted by the findings of BBC Inside Out West‘s excellent undercover investigation and followed up with a Written Question to the Secretary of State for Justice. I asked how many convictions there have been under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, in relation to arrangements where sex has been requested in return for accommodation in the City of Bristol.

I was advised: ‘It is not possible to identify from centrally held data the number of offenders convicted for arrangements where sex had been requested in return for accommodation in Bristol under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, as this particular offence cannot be disaggregated from the broader offence of ‘sexual offences’. Additionally, any data held at a court level refers to where the defendant was dealt with rather than where the offence was committed’.

We know this is an emerging and growing problem as rents continue to rise, there is lack of housing, wages stagnate and people have to wait weeks for Universal Credit claims to be processed. It is therefore wholly inadequate that there is no centrally held data about this specific form of abuse and the government don’t know what scale it is being committed“.

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Darren calls on Government to fund police pensions

Darren Jones MP has backed calls from the Police and Crime Commissioner, Sue Mountstevens, for the government to review their plans to pass changes to funding of police pensions to police forces, potentially costing Avon and Somerset Constabulary an additional £9m per year.

Darren Jones MP said:

” Our Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens and Avon and Somerset Constabulary‘s Chief Constable Andy Marsh have been very clear that the local force is ‘at a tipping point’ and the government’s failure to properly invest in the police could lead to complex investigations such as sexual exploitation or domestic abuse being under-resourced. Earlier this year, I joined police officers on a typical Friday night in Bristol North West so I have seen first-hand the immense pressure they are under to meet rising, and changing, demands with less staff.

I have been advised today (25 10 18) that potential changes to funding of police pensions (and passing of those costs to the force) could cost Avon and Somerset Police £9m per year from 2020-21. Costs of this magnitude without increased funding will inevitably lead to cuts to the number of police and put public safety at risk.

But this is not ‘just’ a local issue, a report by the Home Affairs Committee released today said forces in England and Wales were “struggling to cope” amid falling staff numbers and rising crime. It also accused the Home Office of a “complete failure of leadership” – this is totally unacceptable and I wonder at what point the government will practice what it preached at Conservative party conference and truly bring an end to the crippling austerity that is bringing every one of our public services to breaking point?

Just over a year ago – in advance of last year’s autumn budget – I called upon the government to protect and boost police funding, I’ve also more recently championed investment into investigating child exploitation and, earlier this month, supported calls for fairer allocation of police funding. I have therefore shared my concerns with the government once again to demand proper funding and support for police“.

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Darren backs need for investment in complex police investigations

Darren Jones MP has backed calls from the Police and Crime Commissioner, Sue Mountstevens, for the government to review the Police Allocation Formula (PAF) (which assesses the funding each police force receives from government) alongside the total funding set aside by central government for policing. Continued calls for the PAF to reconsidered come after the force has advised it faces an operational delivery gap of £15m by 2020/21 due to the rising levels of complex crime (which take more police time to investigate) including domestic abuse, sexual exploitation and child abuse. The gap equates to 300 police officers.

Darren Jones MP said:

“Avon and Somerset Constabulary are clear that to meet rising demand for complex criminal investigations they will incur an operational gap of £15m from 2020/2021. That’s the equivalent of 300 extra police officers needed to ensure complex crimes such as domestic abuse, sexual exploitation and child abuse are investigated properly.

Investigating these crimes, and other complex cases, are not negotiable. Therefore, the way money is divided between police forces, and the total government funding available to all forces, must be urgently re-considered. We can’t keep propping up our vital public services by adding a few pounds to council tax whilst cuts are made elsewhere – a longer-term and sustainable solution is needed. I’ll be tabling a Parliamentary Question asking government what assessment they have made to ensure the current formula is fair and what date their long-awaited review will be published”.

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Darren speaks about Modern Slavery in Bristol

Modern slavery, whereby people are forced into slavery often after being trafficked, is a serious problem in Bristol North West; Avon and Somerset Police have found slavery at Nail Bars and Car Washes in the constituency.

Darren spoke in a Parliamentary debate on Modern Slavery in Westminster Hall (Parliament’s second chamber) to highlight the problem in Bristol North West and further afield, and what is being done to address it. You can watch this below:

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Darren backs ban on fur imports

Darren Jones MP is proudly supporting the Open Cages and Humane Society International’s campaign to ban the importing of real fur to the UK.

Darren Jones MP said:

“Animal welfare is of real concern to me – especially where cruelty is so totally unnecessary. That’s the case with the use of real fur and it’s one reason why I back a #FurFreeBritain and a ban on the importing of real fur to the UK.

Whilst, thankfully, fur farms are banned in the UK, we know that most of the countries that supply the UK with fur products have low animal welfare standards.

It has also come to light that some of the products being marketed as fake fur actually contain real fur and people are being duped into buying something many would not knowingly purchase – that’s totally unacceptable and companies selling these products must be held to account”.

 

 

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Darren calls for an end to dog fighting

Darren Jones MP is proudly supporting the League Against Cruel Sports local campaign to end dog fighting.

The League is distributing 12,000 leaflets around Bristol in a bid to get more information on dog fighting in the city and to highlight the issue.

The appeal, backed by Darren, is being made by the League which held an event on the issue recently and received information that raised suspicions that dog fighting was taking place in the city.

The information came from a range of reputable sources including a vet who had noticed an increase in dogs visiting her surgery with injuries consistent with dog fighting, plus a report from a teacher in a Bristol school.

Dogs forced into fighting suffer terrible injuries both during the fights and at the hands of their vicious ‘owners’.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove recently announced plans to extend prison sentences for animal cruelty from six months to five years.

The League has produced factsheets for vets and the police explaining how to spot the signs of dog fighting. Dog fights can take place behind closed doors but also in public areas such as in parks. Signs that dog fighting might be taking place include:

  • Dogs with multiple scars in various stages of healing
  • People subjecting their dogs to extreme exercise regimes to build muscle and stamina
  • The dogs are usually kept out of sight in poor quality housing such as sheds and outbuildings
  • You might see people behaving suspiciously as multiple dogs are brought into a single location
  • You may hear sounds from the fights; dogs barking, yelping, as well as people shouting and cheering

Members of the public can contact the confidential League Against Cruel Sports Animal Crimewatch reporting service by calling 01483 361108, email crimewatch@league.org.uk or visit the website.

Darren Jones MP said:

 

 

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Darren shares response from council on Blaise Castle vandalism

A number of constituents contacted Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, about the recent vandalism, estimated to cost roughly £2000 to repair, to the Blaise Castle Museum’s balustrade wall.

Following these concerns, Darren contacted Bristol City Council to ensure they were aware of the range of antisocial behaviour and vandalism being experienced and witnessed by park visitors.

Darren said:

” As promised, I’ve raised our concerns about vandalism and ASB at Blaise Castle with the council. I also took a look at the latest damage for myself last week. Here’s the reply I received from the council on Friday 7th September:

“I can confirm that Blaise Castle estate has been experiencing heightened levels of vandalism over the last couple of weeks. Parks staff have made a number of reports to the police during this time & made requests for police patrols of the estate in the evenings when most of the issues seem to occur.

Estate management are currently investigating options for CCTV, the cost implications & its effectiveness in reducing crime should the option be taken. Estate management are also trying to engage with local police to try to reduce antisocial behavior and make improvements to infrastructure to reduce opportunities for vandalism”.

If you have any information on this incident, or any other crime/ASB in Blaise Castle, please call the police on 101 and give the call handler the reference number 5218 191 967″. 

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Darren comments on Blaise Castle vandalism

A number of constituents have contacted Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, about the recent vandalism, estimated to cost roughly £2000 to repair, to the Blaise Castle Museum’s balustrade wall.

A spokesperson for the Police said: “Between 4pm on Sunday, August 26 and 8.45am on Bank Holiday Monday, Aug 27, offender(s) caused around £2,000 worth of damage to stonework at the Blaise Castle House Museum in Bristol. If you have any information on this incident, call the police on 101 and give the call handler the reference number 5218 191 967″.

Darren said:

“This mindless vandalism is totally unacceptable. A number of residents have already contacted my office expressing their worries about rising ASB in the park- I’ll be sharing their concerns with the council and local beat team. I am also visiting the park today (31st Aug) for my Picnic Politics event so I’ll be taking a look at the damage and speaking to park users myself. I encourage anyone with information to inform the police”.

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Darren hosts first Business Forum on Modern Slavery

On 22nd June, Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, hosted a Business Forum with local employers, the council, charities and the police and called upon them to work with him to end Modern Slavery in Bristol and beyond.

Darren said:

“There are an estimated 10,000 to 13,000 people in modern slavery in the UK, however many experts agree that’s a huge underestimate. I’ve been championing victim’s rights since becoming Bristol North West’s MP – we have seen cases of modern slavery in Southmead and across the city. I’ll continue to make this a priority by supporting Bills that come through the House of Commons and hosting events such as my Business Forum today – it is only by drawing these issues out into the open that we’ll bring an end to this abuse of vulnerable people. I also recently wrote to the Gangmaster’s and Labour Abuse Authority to ask them to licence nail bar and car wash businesses (as known hot spots for modern slavery) in Bristol, to make sure they treat workers properly.  I have met victims at my weekly surgery – so this is an issue I take extremely seriously”.

Darren continued:

“I’m also continuing to fight unethical working practises wherever I see them including tipping etiquette in restaurants, changes to Asda employee’s terms and conditions and the hostile takeover of GKN amongst others. As the event heard on Friday, Bristol is continuing to lead the way on exposing cases of modern slavery but this great work will only continue if we all join forces – as our Police and Crime Commissioner said businesses and members of the public need to be the police’s eyes and ears and report their concerns”.

Speakers at the Forum included CEO of Unseen Andrew Wallis OBE, Sue Mountstevens Police and Crime Commissioner and Jaya Chakrabarti MBE.

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees and Deputy Mayor, Asher Craig also joined the event to support calls for partners to work together and ensure Bristol acts as a positive example to other cities on how to tackle and eradicate modern slavery.