BRACKNELL MP James Sunderland is spearheading plans to make vandalism of war memorials a criminal offence.

This comes after a number of memorials were defaced across the country in recent weeks.

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Together with fellow 'Blue Collar' Conservative MP Jonathan Gullis, Mr Sunderland recently presented a Private Members’ Bill to the House of Commons which would make desecrating a war memorial an offence.

The Bracknell MP met with Justice Secretary Robert Buckland to set out the case for criminalisation.

Mr Buckland said: “I have been appalled to see pictures in the newspapers and on television of violence and vandalism at recent protests.

“They may not be worth a lot of money, but war memorials have enormous sentimental value which needs to be better reflected by the law.

“When I bring forward the government’s plans for sentencing reform, they will get the protection they need and those who vandalise them can expect to spend longer behind bars.”

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The Desecration of War Memorials Bill is set to return to the House of Commons for its Second Reading in the next couple of months.

It defines war memorials as any physical object, grave, headstone or anything erected, created or installed to commemorate those involved or affected by a conflict or war, including civilians or animals, and will cover defacing by graffiti, burning, spitting, urinating or defecating.

Mr Sunderland, who had a 27-year military career before becoming Bracknell’s MP last year, added: “Following constructive meetings, I welcome the Justice Secretary’s assurance that this government is committed to cracking down on those people who show no respect for the war memorials and graves of those who fought so hard for our country.

“It is beyond disrespectful and I hope that this will act as a deterrent to them and they will know such action will result in punishment.

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“My colleagues who introduced the Private Members’ Bill, have my full support and will continue to do so.

“It seems the government has already listened, and Robert Buckland assured me that he will act on it, which is fantastic news.”