Labour is today supporting a Private Members Bill, sponsored by Thomas Docherty MP, Labour Member of the Defence Committee, which aims to strengthen the sanction for those who commit a crime against service personnel, heard in the House of Commons.
The Armed Forces (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill makes an amendment to the Criminal Justice Act 2003 to make it that certain offences committed towards members of the armed forces shall be treated as ‘aggravated’. This will apply to members of the Regular and Reserve Forces, veterans and their family members.
Labour has campaigned for greater protections for the Armed Forces after research revealed they still experience discrimination and abuse. It was revealed that more than one in five members of the Forces said they had experienced strangers shouting abuse at them while wearing their uniform in public in the UK in the last five years. Nearly one in twenty said they had experienced violence or attempted violence.
This Bill will apply only to criminal offences, but this is a starting point for Labour, who will examine whether it is possible to legislate for greater legal protections the areas of employment (which is particularly important for Reservists) and in the provision of goods and services.
Jim Murphy MP, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, said:
“We must protect those who protect our nation.
“It is unacceptable some service people face abuse.
“This is an important part of a wider campaign to prevent discrimination against our heroes.
“They serve us, we should protect them.”