MP SARAH Champion is leading the fight in memory of tragic teenager Sam Haycock to create a new law with stiffer sentences for vandals who damage life-saving equipment.
The Rotherham MP demanded the new legislation — which she is calling Sam’s Law — after meeting Sam’s parents Simon and Gaynor following the 16-year-old’s death at Ulley Resevoir in May.
Simon, of East Dene, told her he had discovered that vandalising defibrillator cabinets and water-side throwlines was classed simply as criminal damage.
“To me, it’s involuntary manslaughter if you take that piece of equipment and it’s not there when it’s needed,” he said.
“The law goes back to 1971 and it needs looking at and brought up to date.”
The Haycocks have called for stiffer consequences for vandals in such cases, as well as new and more accessible throwlines at open water spots.
Now Ms Champion has revealed she has worked with members of the House of Lords to draft an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which, if successful, would create a specific offense of damaging vital lifesaving equipment, including lifebelts, throwlines and defibrillators.
She said: “After meeting Simon and Gaynor, I was shocked to learn of the convoluted process in place for accessing lifesaving equipment to prevent vandalism.
“In an emergency situation, in which seconds can mean the difference between life and death, any delay is potentially catastrophic.
“Despite the potentially lethal impact of mindless criminal damage to lifesaving equipment, there exists no specific criminal offence to act as a deterrent.
“I am hopeful that my legal change would address this and, as a consequence, save lives.”
Ms Champion said she had been “deeply moved” by Sam’s story and his parents’ determination to make changes in his name.
She raised her concerns in the House of Commons as she told of Sam’s passion and talent for judo, adding: “His young life, and his promising future, have been cut appallingly short.
“I am committed to doing everything I can to support Simon and Gaynor’s campaign to prevent similar needless deaths."
Ms Champion added: "Sam's family’s strength, courage and resolve to improve open water safety are inspirational.
“Sam’s Law would ensure that lifesaving equipment is accessible when it is needed most.
“I share Simon and Gaynor’s view that this would be a fitting tribute to Sam and I hope that peers will support my amendment when it is debated in the House of Lords.”
The current relevant legislation is the Criminal Damage Act 1971, which does not include specific offences of interfering with lifesaving equipment such as lifebelts and throwlines.
The Haycocks also want to see railings placed along the walls of the bridge crossing Ulley Reservoir to deter anyone from jumping in — a step Ms Champion said she supported.