Forum Report: Thurs 18 May 2006: Violent Crime Bill

Panel Session – Violent Crime Bill

The Baroness Anelay of St. Johns, DBE, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs in the House of Lords, hosted the Conservative Women’s Forum Panel Session on the Violent Crime Reduction Bill in the House of Lords on 15th May. Also on the panel were Edward Garnier QC MP, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs in the House of Commons and Oliver Sells, a top criminal QC.

The Panel is part of a series enabling women with an interest in politics, or a particular issue, to come and listen Conservative Frontbench spokespeople talking about the Bills that they are taking through Parliament and then to have the chance to discuss the issues.

Edward Garnier explained that the Bill dealt with alcohol related crime and also about weapons. It raises the age from 17 to 18 to buy or hire an airgun, and also deals with imitation firearms. He said that he felt that the Bill was a headline grabber rather than something that would be effective at reducing crime.

Baroness Anelay then talked about some of the ‘small print’ in the bill – the fact that there had to be allowances so that people could continue to take part in paintballing activities and also airsoft, which re-enacts fights and in which 10,000 people take part today. Baroness Anelay told us that she had tabled an amendment to make provision in the bill to deal with ‘happy slapping’, the process of taking pictures on mobile phones of people in distress and showing them to others for amusement.

Oliver Sells then told the panel that in his opinion all the Government provisions in the Bill could be dealt with by existing legislation although he supported the Tory proposals for new offences.

The meeting, which was well attended, then had a discussion about crime in Britain today and its causes. There was concern expressed at the binge drinking culture that seems to be prevalent among many young people of all socio-economic groups.

The Conservative Women’s Organisation would like to express their gratitude to the Baroness Anelay for arranging the Forum in the House of Lords.

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