Over recent weeks, I have been appalled at the Tory's unworkable, unethical plans to house asylum seekers on a barge in Dorset.
The Government failed to listen to well-founded concerns or even carry out basic checks of the water supply, which was contaminated with Legionella bacteria, putting both asylum-seekers and staff at-risk.
The Tories have serious questions to answer about the safety of this project and should stop wasting taxpayer's money pursuing headlines and instead fix this broken asylum system.
Baroness Casey's independent findings of racist, misogynistic, and homophobic abuses of power within the Met Police are deeply shocking and will leave many residents in Tooting concerned that the trust between the police and our community has been shattered.
It is clear that there is a failure of leadership from the Home Office and today's report lays bare the scale of the challenge needed to reform the Met Police. The rot runs right through the force, so no stone can be left unturned in the push for change. I welcome the work that Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has already begun with the new Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, in addressing these deep-rooted issues and regaining the trust of residents and victims of crime in Tooting.
However, under this Home Secretary and this Conservative Government, the Met Police are lacking the leadership, ambition and resources needed to grasp the scale of this challenge. Over the last 13 years, neighbourhood policing has been decimated, whilst prosecutions for violent and sexual crimes have hit the lowest levels on record, and victims of crime are now unsure that if they report a crime, the police will even turn up.
It is clear we need a Government with a plan to overhaul policing in London which will deliver cultural and systematic change. Under a Labour Government, we will overhaul policing and raise standards, with strengthened training and mandatory vetting, and the restoration of neighbourhood policing.
I would like to thank our hardworking neighbourhood police officers who have always worked constructively with me and for their continuing efforts to keep our local community safe.
The story of a Ukrainian family who wants to come to live in Furzedown recently made national news! Oksana and her young son Dmytro have a sponsor ready and willing to welcome them into their home in the local area, however Home Office delays have stopped them travelling to safety in the United Kingdom.
It is inspiring and heartwarming to see the generosity shown by the British public in welcoming Ukrainian refugees into their lives, however Oksana and Dmytro have been let down badly by the Home Office. They applied to come to the UK in September last year and, so far, the Home Office have refused to provide a timeframe for a decision to both myself and their sponsor's solicitors. This is simply not good enough and the Government must get a grip.
Our latest research, shows that in 2021/22, the total number of days lost to poor mental health has doubled to more than 730,000 over the last decade. This comes at the same time that there has been a drop in the number of neighbourhood police officers by 6,000 and of Police Community Support Officers by 8,500.
These absences equate to over 2,000 police officers being off sick each day, last year alone, due to poor mental health.
It is clear that this Conservative Government has presided over 13 years of neglect and staff shortages that have left our public services at breaking point.
The next Labour Government will recruit 8,500 more mental health professionals, ensuring a million more patients get treated each year; and we will rebuild neighbourhood policing, delivering a package of 13,000 extra neighbourhood officers and PCSOs, putting police back on the beat.
Read the full story here
Last week, I asked the Government how many enquiries to the Home Office from MPs are outstanding and how many older than six months are awaiting a reply.
It was incredibly disheartening, although not surprising, to learn that over 10,000 case enquiries have not been answered by the Home Office with nearly 1,000 of those waiting longer than six months. These enquiries cover urgent and compassionate cases and it is simply unacceptable that the Government have allowed such a huge backlog to accumulate.
These are people’s lives, with their family lives and jobs often dependent on Home Office decisions – the Government simply has to get a grip.
To see these questions, follow the links here and here.
Such an incredible honour to have volunteered with the Care4Calais team in Calais and Dunkirk. Their compassion and work ethic is second to none and they do so much to help and support those who have lost everything, in the most difficult of circumstances.
Care4Calais is a refugee crisis charity that helps with delivering essential aid and support, such as food and medical supplies, to refugees living in the UK, France, and Belgium.
So glad that I could be a part of this experience to help with the crisis in Calais.
Our Tooting community always comes together in the face of adversity, and I know many local residents will want to help those impacted by the current situation in Afghanistan in any way they can. That is why I have compiled a list of organisations and charities currently working to support Afghan refugees:
To provide refugee accommodation:
Refugees at Home: UK charity which connects those with a spare room with refugees and asylum seekers in need of somewhere to stay. Apply to be a host here.
Room for Refugees: Community hosting network that offers safe, temporary homes and emotional support for insecurely-housed refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable groups - families, the sick, the elderly and unaccompanied asylum seeking children with no recourse to public funds. Apply to offer accommodation here.
Wandsworth Borough Council: Residents, businesses, or other landlords who could offer a property for new arrivals are being asked to register their details - they are particularly keen to hear from those with 3 to 4 bedroom properties available. To offer accommodation, contact Wandsworth Borough Council via email at email@example.com or by phone on 020 8871 7333.
Care4Calais: Asking for volunteers, financial donations and donations clothes, shoes, phones or other essentials at drop off points:
Choose Love: Supporting projects providing vital aid and services to Afghan people who have fled the country: clothes, shelter, support for children and groups protecting women and children’s rights.
British Red Cross: Calling for donations to help staff and volunteers provide emotional support and essential items, including warm clothes, blankets, soap, toothbrushes and nappies.
Save the Children: Calling for donations to an emergency fund.
Action Aid: Calling for emergency donations to help charity provide emergency humanitarian assistance including food, water, and essential items such as hygiene kits, cash, tarpaulins, tents, cooking utensils, clothing, and bedding.
Afghanaid: Afghanaid is a British humanitarian and development organisation, currently asking for donations to assist response to the Afghan crisis
UNICEF: Raising money to support children in Afghanistan
UNHCR: Calling for donations to help the organisation in the distribution of family tents, hygiene kits, core relief items like blankets, sleeping mats and kitchen sets.
The Big Give: Delivering emergency support to families whose lives have been destroyed or uprooted by the conflict.
Muslim Aid: Calling for donations to Afghanistan Emergency Appeal.
Islamic Relief: Calling for donations to aid Afghan’s on the ground in Afghanistan, and when they come to the UK.
Doctors Without Borders: The MSF teams are responding to the crisis in Afghanistan, providing medical aid, expertise and life-saving supplies during the escalating crisis.
Paiwand: Established an Afghan Resettlement Emergency Fund, supporting displaced Afghans in need of assistance.
Refugee Council: Providing aid, including mental health support, for refugees arriving in the UK.
Today, I voted against the Nationality and Borders Bill, a piece of legislation that risks breaking international law and turns our backs on unaccompanied children fleeing war and persecution.
The Conservatives just voted to make it harder to give a safe haven to children fleeing violence and war. They should be ashamed.
The cruel irony of this Government’s approach is that it’s weak on taking action against criminal gangs and brutal when it comes to orphaned children from war zones.
As someone who has held the hands of frightened children and terrified parents working as a doctor in war torn areas such as the Rohingya and Palestine, I am appalled at the Government’s approach to protecting those in need of safety.
On Tuesday, I was alerted to a team of Met Police officers stopping fast food delivery drivers and carrying out immigration checks on Mitcham Road.
The only concerns I have received from local residents (which authorities were copied into) were about social distancing, for which an operation of this size seems excessive. However, the police say it was 'a road safety policing operation'. The Home Office say it was in relation to 'suspected immigration offences'.
This looks like racial profiling - and under the Equalities Act 2010, this may amount to indirect discrimination due to its disproportionate impact on ethnic minority groups. If it's not unlawful, then it's definitely immoral and I cannot defend it.
Our community here in Tooting is inclusive, diverse and welcoming. The celebratory nature of the police’s response to any arrests is not in line with our local values.
I have met with the police since and encouraged them to focus their time on fighting crime – not targeting people at work.
The recent vigil on Clapham Common was our chance to come together and grieve the loss of Sarah Everard's life. Our chance to mourn the lives of the women lost to violence. And it was a chance to mourn our own lived experiences. I share the frustrations and disappointment felt over police action taken that day.
In light of events at Clapham Common, I know many are concerned about the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, and what this divisive law would mean for the right to protest.
I want to be clear: Tonight, I will be voting against this Bill.
I believe that the Government has undermined this Bill through draconian measures that impose disproportionate controls on free expression and the right to protest. I believe these measures will have an unfair impact on Black, Asian, and ethnic minority people. I also believe 10 year sentences for crimes against statues – significantly longer than the sentences for crimes which disproportionately impact women – is a worrying priority.
Under this Government, rape convictions have fallen to an all-time low, delays in the Crown Courts are at an all-time high, and justice is not being served for thousands of women and girls. This is now the time for the Government to correct their woeful record and commit to putting in place long overdue protections for women.