At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all the families and friends who are grieving the loss of innocent lives last Friday in Paris. No words can describe the devastation that was reaped at a time when people were out relaxing at the end of a week. I also pay tribute to all the service men and women who have had to attend to those hurt as a result of these barbaric acts and see things that no-one should ever have to face.
There is unity in vocalising complete condemnation of all those who took to kill innocent people in Paris in the name of terrorism alone. The evil displayed in France must not be repeated again. Today we have learnt that 7 such plots have been foiled in the United Kingdom and for this reason, I fully support the Prime Minister’s announcement to invest in an additional 1,900 staff for our security services, and will continue to urge him and the Chancellor to ensure that no police staff are cut, whether Officers or Community Police Support Officers who guard our streets day and night.
Living in York, we want the assurance that policing doesn’t just respond to incidents but prevents them occurring. It is often the vigilance of our police which will first identify issues where they lie; it is also the police that are at the heart of strengthening our communities thus reducing risks in our neighbourhoods. At this time, we must also support those from all faiths living peacefully in our city. Thousands of Muslims are facing acts of torture, rape and murder in their communities in places like Iraq and Syria, as are Christians and those of other religious minorities.
Many are fleeing for their lives – mums, dads and their children, seeking a place of sanctuary, it is important that we continue to provide humanitarian support and a place of safety for them, as we would hope for our own families if we had the fate of being born in such a place. However, it is vital that we carry out full security checks on everyone who enters our country, whether a UK citizen returning or someone seeking asylum. It is also essential that checks at our ports are also escalated, so no cargo enters without a thorough search first. It is important that we continue to build strong links across our city with all communities, as this is how we remain resilient to potential threats.
The Government are now engaged in a wider political process to address the real challenges that the current situation presents. With the complexities of the regional conflicts in the Middle East and the multiple interests involved, it is vital that we give full support to a political solution to bring regional stability and an end to the current wars intermingled with terrorism. Naturally, as part of this, there is also discussion about the potential role for further military support in addressing this crisis. I am listening carefully to all views in this regard, including those of experts and constituents to ensure that our current and longer term security is at the forefront of all decisions eventually made.