People who desecrate war memorials should be sent to “battle camps” to face justice, a minister has urged.
Penny Mordaunt, the paymaster general in the Cabinet Office and a former defence secretary, called for the move after Black Lives Matter protests and counter-demonstrations in London.
Ms Mordaunt said there were some “disturbing scenes” including the “desecration” of the cenotaph on Whitehall.
The Royal Navy reservist said: “I know from having spent some time in uniform and working closely with our armed forces for many years, the sense of care and duty those men and women feel towards everyone in our country…
“In desecrating such memorials some protesters sent a message to veterans and all those in uniform today: your life doesn’t matter to me.
“Whatever the motivations for such acts, they should be condemned in the strongest terms and are totally against the values of the people of our country, of every creed and colour.
“I fully understand therefore why people have been moved to protect those memorials, and the immense anger felt.”
She called on Justice Secretary Robert Buckland to give judges new powers to hand out a less traditional sentences.
“I would like to suggest that for some found guilty of vandalising such memorials they might benefit from some time spent with our service personnel – perhaps at a battle camp,” she wrote in a letter to him.
“That might give them a new appreciation of just what these people go through for their sakes.
“They are their armed forces. They should be respected and treasured.”
A source close to Mr Buckland did not dismiss the idea but said he was already consulting MPs on a new bill to give judges the ability to hand down tougher sentences and fines to people who desecrate war memorials.
The source added he “shares their objectives” although “no decisions have been made as to how we can make this happen yet”.