Vandals who criminally damage statues face up to 10 years in jail

Vandals who criminally damage statues face up to 10 years in jail plus £2,500 fine under new law

  • The new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill set to be unveiled on Tuesday
  • Bill will propose vandals could face 10 years in prison and a fine of up to £2,500 
  • Current law means courts can impose 3 months for damage worth less than £5k
  • Bill will also introduce tougher powers for police to tackle non-violent protests 

The Government is set to introduce new laws which will mean vandals could face up to 10 years in prison for damaging a memorial statue.

Under new powers, courts will also be able to order those convicted to pay up to £2,500 as the current limit of three months for damage worth less than £5,000 is set to be scrapped.

The move comes after a host of memorials and statues across the country have been damaged in the past year as a result of increasing tensions over Britain’s colonial history.

The Government is set to propose new laws which would mean vandals who criminally damage memorials and statues could face up to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay fines of £2,500. Pictured: the toppling of the Edward Colston statue during a protest at Bristol Harbour

Soldiers scrub the Earl Haig memorial in London after it was vandalised during a BLM protest

According to the Telegraph, the new law – which be passed under the wide-ranging Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill – will not just cover statues but also gardens and flowers or wreaths laid at gravestones.

It will also cover structures like the Cenotaph and any other similar monuments installed to commemorate a person or animal alive or dead. 

It comes after the Cenotaph and statues of Sir Winston Churchill marked with graffiti while statues associated with slave traders, such as Edward Colston in Bristol, have been damaged.

In June last year, a 28-year-old was convicted after urinating on a memorial honouring murdered PC Keith Palmer in Westminster during far-right protests.

Meanwhile, in August, a 31-year-old woman admitted criminal damage after daubing ‘all lives matter’ in blue paint on the The Royal Air Force Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park. 

Sir Winston Churchill’s grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames told the Telegraph he was ‘thrilled’ the Government was doing something about it but admitted 10 years in prison might be ‘overdoing the point’.

Statue of Sir Winston Churchill was damaged during a Black Lives Matter protest last year

Meanwhile, former army officer James Sunderland, who co-sponsored the bill, said: ‘We have seen far too many incidents of vandalism where the judges have not had the powers to respond adequately to the public outrage.

‘I don’t think for a second the courts are going to be sentencing people to 10 years but it gives the judges the powers effectively to deal with it.’

The parliamentary Bill which will be presented on Tuesday include plans to reform sentencing, the courts and the management of offenders as well as more powers and protections for the police, some of which will be UK-wide while others may only apply in England and Wales.

One measure proposed in the Bill includes introducing tougher police powers to tackle non-violent protests which are deemed significantly disruptive to the public or on access to Parliament. 

In January this year, communities minister Robert Jenrick announced plans to make it harder for councils to remove statues.

The minister will change the law and make it so that historic monuments cannot be removed without a formal planning process.

The legislation will also state that controversial statues should be explained and contextualised, rather than concealed and therefore protected. 

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