BBC’s Line of Duty star Tommy Jessop is backing today’s launch of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Down syndrome, led by SNP MP Dr Lisa Cameron and Labour MP Matt Western.

A number of Down syndrome advocacy and support groups along with a cross-party group of MPs have come together to launch the new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Down Syndrome at Westminster.

The new group, which has been launched to raise issues affecting people with Down syndrome and their families and carers, is also designed to promote equality and respect at all stages of life.

It will also campaign for equal access and support in all areas of life and highlight the innate worth of people with Down syndrome and the contribution they make.

Line of Duty actor Tommy Jessop said: “I welcome the new All-Party Parliamentary Group for Down Syndrome.

"I hope this will raise awareness of people living with Down syndrome and who we really are so that we really do have a voice to speak up for ourselves and other people”.

“I want to see people with Down syndrome treated equally with others before and after they are born.

"We are the only group of people in the UK where people try to end our lives before we are born just because we have Down syndrome. This is not fair. It scars our lives and causes mental health problems”.

For Down syndrome Awareness Month in October last year, Dr Lisa Cameron - now leading the APPG - led a debate in the Commons.

She said: “This is a particularly poignant debate for me to lead, as chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups on disability and on inclusive entrepreneurship, which I will mention a bit more later.

"This year’s theme for Down Syndrome Awareness Month is “what holds me back”, which I will discuss, but I want also to speak about the real skills, abilities and potential of people with Down’s syndrome and why nothing should hold them back.”

She added: “Every year in October, people across the UK and around the world mark Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Among other things, it is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements and contributions of people with Down’s syndrome to their local communities and to our society as a whole.

“Today I hope to take the opportunity to add some individual names and narratives that speak to the talents, passions, hopes and dreams of those living with Down’s syndrome in the UK today.”

The new Down syndrome All-Party Parliamentary Group is to continue this work.

The first meeting will include a speech by advocates with Down syndrome welcoming the establishment of the group and highlighting the issues that the group will be seeking positive change on. These issues range from maternity care for parents expecting a baby with Down syndrome to the matter of premature death for people living with Down syndrome.

Conservative MP Elliot Coburn, the group co-chair, said he was “delighted” to be asked to join the All-Party Parliamentary Group.

He added: “People with Down Syndrome deserve a strong voice in Parliament to stand up for them and their families, and to press for greater support to help with the child’s development and for the family”.

Nicola Enoch from the Down Syndrome Policy Group said the group is striving to ensure that people with Down syndrome will have their voices heard at Parliament.

Government Minister Caroline Dinenage added: “I’m so delighted to support the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Down Syndrome. I am all in favour of action to ensure people with Down syndrome lead healthy, active and independent lives – that their talents are recognised and their voices heard”.

The latest season of Line of Duty’s opened with character Terry Boyle, a character with Down’s syndrome played by Tommy Jessop, arrested for the murder of journalist Gail Vella.

The episode drew complaints to the BBC over how the character was referred to, the corporation later said.

Terry Boyle was referred to as an “oddball” by Superintendent Ted Hastings, but the BBC said Supt Hastings’ remark was not a reference to his disability - rather to a theory he had been stalking the journalist.