MP praises police reaction on day of Jo Cox’s death

Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin
Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin
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NEW BATLEY and Spen MP Tracy Brabin has praised police for their actions on the day her predecessor was attacked and dieed in Birstall.

Ms Brabin described the death of Jo Cox as an “assault on the principles and basis of our democracy”.

She used her maiden speech in the House of Commons to pay tribute to Ms Cox as her “friend and inspiration” as well as the “dignity” shown by her husband, Brendan.

Speaking in a debate on police safety, Ms Brabin praised the “brave officers of West Yorkshire Police who reacted so swiftly and professionally on that awful day in June.”

She continued: “A community that could have become overun with panic with such a terrible act taking place in broad daylight in the sleepy village I grew up in was looked after admirably by our police in no small part because of the swiftness with which they made an arrest.

“What happened in Batley and Spen was a violent attack on a member of this House but I’d like to take this moment to thank the police officers themselves who put their lives on the line every single day.”

Ms Brabin used her speech to hail the importance of libraries to communities.

She also called for action on housing, pointing to her own experience of moving into a council home after her family struggled to keep up with payments on their mortgage.

Halifax MP Holly Lynch, who has mounted a campaign on police safety in recent months, said West Yorkshire Police had lost 1,200 officers over five years, stretching the “thin blue line desperately thin”.

She said the cuts meant lone officers were having to attend incidents more often.

Her campaign was inspired by her experience of patrolling with an officer over the summer when she was forced to dial 999 to call for help as he was confronted after stopping a car.

Ms Lynch said: “What has shocked me and what thoroughly depresses police officers is sentences handed down to offenders for assaulting the police often fail to reflect the seriousness of the crime or more crucially serve as a deterrent.”

Speaking for the Government, Policing Minister Brandon Lewis insisted funding for police forces had been protected in the current financial year.

He said: “I want to make sure that we are doing all that we can to support frontline police officers and police staff as well as the public sector more generally.

“There needs to be a very clear message that assaults and bad behaviour towards people who are serving the public. who are public servants, is unacceptable.”

Mr Lewis said suffering abuse and assaults should not be seen as an inevitable part of being a police officer.

He added: “Assaulting a police officer is completely unacceptable and anyone who is found guilty should expect to feel the full force of the law.”

The minister said it was for chief constables and police and crime commissioners to decide whether officers in their area wear cameras or patrol on their own.

Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley, criticised previous Government cuts to police budgets and expressed concerns about the fall in police numbers in West Yorkshire.

Mr Davies said: “I believe there should be a clear additional sentence for anyone who attacks our police officers and generally sentences need to be much more severe.”