This week, Keir Starmer launched Labour’s plan to crack down on the smuggling gangs behind small boats.
The Conservatives’ failed approach has given a free pass to smuggler and trafficking gangs who are undermining our border security and putting lives at risk with small boat crossings.
Under the Conservatives, criminal convictions for people smuggling have plummeted by 36% since 2010 and almost a quarter (23%) since 2015. Just 253 people were convicted of people smuggling last year. At the same time, almost 46,000 people crossed the Channel. It is estimated that the annual profits made by the criminal smuggling gangs operating the small boat crossings has surged to almost £200 million.
Labour has committed to creating a new cross-border police unit funded by redirecting the millions of pounds being wasted by the Conservative Government on the unworkable Rwanda scheme.
Cracking down on criminal smuggler gangs is integral to Labour’s new security plan. We will:
Seek a new Security Agreement with Europe in government to tackle people smuggling and bring gang-leaders to justice, including:
Real-time data and intelligence-sharing on suspects – Labour will work with European partners to introduce a new real-time intelligence sharing system to replicate the functionality of programmes, like SIS II, that Britain lost access to as part of the Conservatives’ botched Brexit deal.
A new partnership with Europol that enables the UK to play a leading role in partnerships to combat migrant smuggling across Europe – putting Britain’s police at the heart of pan-European efforts to counter people smuggling, bring gang leaders to justice and seize vessels being used in small boat crossings.
More UK police officers posted to Europol to coordinate joint investigations – specialist investigators from Labour’s Cross-Border Police will be stationed in the UK and across Europe focused solely on disrupting people smuggling and organised crime.
A new Serious and Organised Crime Strategy, with a specific focus on tackling criminal smuggling gangs, including:
Strengthening civil orders, such as existing Serious Crime Prevention Orders, to ensure they can be properly used against smuggling and trafficking – this would enable the NCA to introduce restrictions on the movement and operation of those suspected of being involved in smuggling and trafficking people to the UK in advance of criminal convictions.
Ensuring close cooperation between the NCA and GCHQ on the surveillance of people smugglers and traffickers – enhancing existing joint operations between the two agencies to more effectively track and disrupt the activity of criminal smuggling gangs.
This week in Parliament, in my new role as Shadow Minister for Primary Care and Public Health, I spoke in a general debate about community pharmacies.
Chemists do far more than just dispense repeat prescriptions and sell shampoo. They provide a range of clinical services and have a key role to play in public health and preventative care.
However, after 13 years of Tory government, the rising cost of doing business has meant many pharmacies are closing their doors for good, disproportionately in the most deprived areas. Staffing is also a tangible issue – two thirds of contractors said they found it “very difficult” to fill pharmacist roles last year.
I asked the Government what assessment it has made of the risk of more pharmacies closing down and the impact this will have elsewhere. I also asked the Minister what his long-term strategy is to equip pharmacies for a future where their talents, capacity and expertise can be fully utilised and fix the front door of the NHS.
Jagtar Singh Johal
This week, as chair of the APPG for British Sikhs, I’ve been campaigning for the Government to call for Jagtar Singh Johal’s release.
Six years down the line, it’s really concerning to see the Government backtracking on its commitment to call for Jaggi’s release. It’s unclear exactly what Rishi said when he raised the case of Jagtar Singh Johal to Modi last weekend, but given the significant pushback we have seen from him over the last year, it’s unlikely to be promising.
It is Foreign Office policy to call for a British National’s release if they have been arbitrarily detained. There should be no confusion over Jaggi’s position and no question over calling for his release. It will concern many in the UK that while Boris Johnson understood Jaggi to be arbitrarily detained, Rishi Sunak seems to hold a different opinion.
Read more in an article by Birmingham Live:
This week, I’ve been campaigning for more police officers on our streets and for Quinton Police Station to remain open.
On Sunday, a serious crime incident happened in Quinton, supposedly involving three men on scrambler-style e-scooters engaged in a drive-by shooting. Coincidentally, this happened just round the corner from the old police station.
This isn’t the only case of serious crime that I’ve seen in the constituency in recent months. This summer, I’ve seen rising cases of crime including illegal racing, speeding, vehicle-theft, burglary and ASB. My constituents desperately need a greater police presence with more patrols by West Midlands Police officers. Crucially, I need officers co-located in the constituency.
See both my letter to West Midlands Police and to the Police and Crime Commissioner below.
More also in an article by Birmingham Live:
Historic England is offering funding to help community and heritage organisations uncover and share hidden histories.
For more information about the scheme and how to apply, follow the link below.
Edgbaston CLP Garden Party
Last Sunday, it was fantastic to join the Edgbaston CLP for their annual fundraising garden party. It was great to see lots of new faces and a I would like to say a huge thank you to all our members who are working so hard for a Labour government.
It was also great to see some of our local councillors too. Thank you for all for the amazing work you do for the community.
Next week, the Mobile Household Recycling Centre will be visiting Woodgate Valley Park, Bartley Green, B32 3DS, on Tuesday 19th September, Meadow Road, Harborne, B17 8BU, on Wednesday 20th September, and Shipbourne Close, Harborne, B32 2LH, on Thursday 21st September. The centre will be open between 7am and 12:30pm, so please come along if you're local and have bulky household waste to dispose of.
Preet Kaur Gill MP
Birmingham Edgbaston covering Bartley Green, Edgbaston, Harborne and Quinton