Ian Austin MP

Labour MP for Dudley North

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Austin: lock up TV criminals

I want tough jail sentences for criminals like Stokes featured on Cops and Robbers - and the hard-working majority in Dudley agree.

I think last week's episode of Channel 4's Cops and Robbers created a terrible impression of Dudley. I think the people they featured are a disgrace. You can find them in any town so I wish they’d chosen somewhere else to film it.

I think it’s my job to stand up for the decent hard-working and law-abiding majority in Dudley.

I've lived in Dudley pretty much all my life. I grew up with plenty of people who came from the same estates and had the same tough upbringing as those featured on the programme but went on to make something of themselves and earn a decent living. We shouldn't make any excuses for turning to crime when what’s really tough is going out to work day after day and trying to support a family.

It definitely makes sense to give people skills and education whilst they’re in prison in the hope that they make a positive contribution to society and stop making everyone else’s life a misery when they come out, but I think most people will agree with me that the best way to prevent them robbing the rest of us is to lock them up. Some of these people had over 40 convictions and to be fair the police in the programme were doing their best to get Stokes locked up. But if they’d had much stiffer sentences earlier on, they might have learnt the error of their ways.

I think we need a zero tolerance approach to these people and I think the council should be giving flats to people who work hard and pay their way, not someone like Becky who contributes absolutely nothing to our community.

The government’s approach is completely wrong too. They’ve sacked thousands of police officers, tried to close our court and are privatising the Probation Service will make it much more difficult to prevent these people committing crime. Criminals are getting so-called cautions and warnings for offences like assault, robbery, domestic violence and even sexual assault and rape. That means they never even go to court.

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