CALLOUS thieves who steal memorial plaques from war graves and other monuments look set to face tougher sentencing thanks to a campaign by Warrington South MP David Mowat.
Premier David Cameron has agreed to beef up penalties for such “specially aggravated” offences after the recent theft of the River of Life Memorial Plaque, commemorating the 1993 IRA bombing which killed three-year-old Johnathan Ball and 12-year-old Tim Parry. Mr Mowat (pictured right) raised the issue recently at Prime Minister’s Questions.
Mr Cameron, in a letter to the MP, confirmed that the government will ask the Sentencing Council to consider “how the aggravated harm caused by theft of, or criminal damage to monuments, can best be reflected in sentencing and whether there is a case for a specific aggravated offence.”
The Sentencing Council will look at this matter as part of its wider review of sentencing guidelines for local magistrates’ courts.
Mr Mowat said: “Memorial plaques like these often have a scrap metal value of £30 or less, but in relation to the events they commemorate, they are priceless to local communities.
 “Across the country we are seeing increasing numbers of thefts from war memorials and of course, just recently the River of Life plaque was stolen from Warrington.
“It’s time we sent a very clear message that these actions are simply not acceptable.”
Following a massive public appeal by Cheshire police two men have been arrested on suspicion of theft of the memorial from Bridge Street, which has now been recovered and been bailed until July 5.