Robert’s Weekly Column – 27th September 2018

There have been positive developments in Old Town, as Swindon Borough Council confirmed that five CCTV cameras covering Wood Street, Devizes Road and Newport Street have been installed and are now up and running.

Getting extended CCTV coverage has been a priority for me and ward Councillors Claire Ellis and Nick Burns-Howell, so I am glad that Swindon Borough Council have funded the cameras and they are now up and running, helping to meet the concerns of businesses and residents, working closely with police to detect criminality and incidents of antisocial behaviour in the area.

Over the past year or so, I have been contacted by several local residents in Eldene who have been concerned about crime and anti-social behaviour and I have been in close contact with the local Community Policing Team (CPT) as a result. Action is being taken.  Police officers in uniform and plain clothes carried out a large operation aimed at tackling gangs in the area at the weekend.  During the operation, suspected drug users and drug dealers were stopped and searched and several arrests were made. This operation is just a small part of the ongoing drive to combat not only drug dealers but also the side effects of drug dealing, including knife crime and the use of children in drug-dealing gangs.  I will continue to work closely with local residents in this area, as well as our police, to help tackle these issues.

 In my role as Solicitor General, I have been busy working on Unduly Lenient Sentence Cases.  Last week, I was pleased to successfully apply to increase the sentence of the first person to be convicted under the Modern Slavery Act.

Josephine Lyamu organised the travel of five vulnerable young women from Nigeria to Germany for exploitation through prostitution for her own financial gain. The victims travelled from Nigeria across the Sahara to Libya, where they boarded overcrowded inflatable boats to Italy, and finally entered Germany using false identification documents. The traumatic journey involved spending days or weeks in “transit houses”, the rape of one of the victims, and being rescued from the Mediterranean after their boat broke down.

After Lyamu’s arrest in 2017, she plotted to stop the case against her through intimidation of the victims’ families. This included arranging the unlawful arrest of one of the victim’s sisters remaining in Nigeria.

Lyamu was originally sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court in July, where she was given 14 years imprisonment. Last week, after personally arguing her sentence was too low in the Court of Appeal, her sentence was increased to 18 years imprisonment.

 Any member of the public can ask for someone’s Crown Court Sentence to be reviewed if they think it’s too low under the Unduly Lenient Sentence Scheme. Further information can be found herehttps://www.gov.uk/ask-crown-court-sentence-review you can read more about the cases I have argued in the Court of Appeal by visitinghttps://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/attorney-generals-office

 On Friday 5th October, I will be attending Swindon Trauma Group’s ninth annual conference at the Marriott Hotel here in Swindon. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious issue and anyone can, without warning, experience a traumatic experience that will affect them.  This local group has provided support for sufferers for the past eleven years. You can find out more about their work and the conference by visiting the Swindon Trauma Group websitehttps://www.swindontraumagroup.org.uk/

 There is an unprecedented amount of sound and fury being generated around Brexit as we reach the final stages of the negotiations as to the detail of our departure and future relationship.  Some people have been calling for another vote, but I don’t think that a second referendum would be the right thing to do.  It would create more instability at a time when we need it least, and fail to heal any of the divisions that currently exist.  Parliament has to get on with the job of helping to deliver a Brexit that returns control of our laws and borders to the UK and a deal that allows for a new partnership between us and the EU.