David Lammy accuses Johnson Government of ‘taking justice for granted’

Women have to feel safe in our streets, shadow justice secretary David Lammy has said, as he accused Boris Johnson’s Government of “taking justice for granted”.

The MP for Tottenham told delegates at the Labour Party conference in Brighton: “Women have to feel safe in our streets, they should not be carrying keys through their fingers.

“Labour will fast-track rape and sexual assault in our courts, we will increase minimum sentences for rapists, we will create a new offence of street harassment, we will ensure victims of domestic abuse get legal aid once again, and finally, conference, we will make misogyny a hate crime.”

He said a Labour government would “support the introduction of a new national pro bono service with binding pro bono targets to support those who can’t afford legal advice or aren’t eligible for legal aid”.

Mr Lammy claimed Mr Johnson was “levelling the country down”.

He went on: “Taking justice for granted is exactly what the Conservatives have done. The pandemic has hit the justice system, frankly, like a baseball bat, but the Tories had knocked it on to its knees already.

“They had closed 295 courts. The crown court backlog is at an all-time high of 60,000 cases. Convictions for rape are at an all-time low. Victims are giving up on the criminal justice system altogether.

“The Tories are now desperately setting up ‘Nightingale courts’ to deal with the backlog they created. It is a classic example of a Conservative false economy.”

Mr Lammy recalled: “I was just 12 when I was first stopped and searched by the police. They said I matched the description of a mugger.

“The reality was just like how Gavin Williamson confused Marcus Rashford with Maro Itoje – they could not tell one black person from another.”

Mr Lammy added: “It cannot be right that 51% of children in our prison system are black, Asian or minority ethnic background. Labour will address the unfairness that runs right through the justice system and finally implementing my (Lammy) Review.

“Introducing targets to bring in more women and more ethnic minorities to the most senior positions in our courts. We will reform the Judicial Appointments Commission so that judges look more like the people they judge.”

He accused the Government of “slapping the victims of Grenfell, Hillsborough and the Windrush scandal in the face”, adding: “They’re coming after your human rights and we in the Labour Party will defend them. Conference, they are coming after judicial review.”

He added: “Labour will legislate to bring the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law.”

Mr Lammy ended by urging party unity, saying: “For too long the Labour Party has been willing to wash its dirty linen in public. In a post-Brexit, post-pandemic, skills crisis, supply crisis, rising cost Britain, it is time to bring the washing in from the line.”