To mark International Human Rights Day and the end of the 16 Days of Action, Vera Baird QC, Chair of Labour’s Women’s Safety Commission and Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, will launch her latest report: ‘Placing Women’s Safety Centre Stage’.
It concludes that:
- Refuges continue to close across the country and some areas now have no refuge provision at all;
- Local authorities are struggling to provide women who have left abusive relationships with the basic amenities they need to start a new life;
- All regions have lost services supporting children living with domestic abuse, despite these children often being at high risk of abuse themselves;
- More than 40 per cent of domestic violence survivors do not meet the evidence threshold to access legal aid and struggle to get justice;
- Prosecutions and convictions for domestic and sexual violence have fallen under this Government
The report makes a series of recommendations to the Labour Party, including:
- Establishing a new Commissioner with responsibility for tackling violence against women and girls and tasked with develop minimum standards of service provision at all levels;
- Introducing a statutory obligation on Government, local authorities and other responsible bodies at the local level, to develop integrated domestic and sexual violence strategies;
- Sustaining the Rape Support Fund and establishing a new national refuge fund to provide vital support for women and children in need;
- Ensuring better access to legal aid by widening the categories of evidence to support an allegation of domestic abuse and banning charges for such evidence.
Report author and Labour Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC said:
“Previous Labour Government’s spent energy, time and resources on tackling violence against women and girls. This report reveals that the clock has gone back. There is growing uncertainty about the levels of protection and support available – and no promise on prevention for the next generation. Our report has a series of recommendations on how the next Labour Government can reverse the last five years’ decline and put tackling violence against women and girls at the heart of a modern welfare state.”
To mark the launch of this report, Vera Baird QC will be visiting Highgate Wood School in Haringey with Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls Seema Malhotra MP in the first of a series of girls’ safety summits, which will ask girls how safe they feel their communities are and explore the attitudes of young people towards domestic and sexual violence.
Seema Malhotra MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls said:
“It is crucial that the legacy of domestic and sexual violence is not passed on to a new generation. Yet, one in six teenagers in relationships say they’ve experienced sexual violence and one in three teenage girls say they’ve had to put up with unwanted groping or harassment in school itself.
“Labour wants to know what is influencing young people’s attitudes towards violence and abuse in relationships and the best place to start is by talking to young people themselves. That is why, over the coming months, we’ll be going out across the country to speak to young women in a series of women and girls’ safety summits – and stepping up our campaign for compulsory sex and relationships education.”
Yvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary said:
“The safety of women is far too important to turn a blind eye. Yet this report serves as a clear reminder that the Government is continuing to pursue a chaotic agenda of funding and policy changes, without ever evaluating their cumulative impact on women’s safety. Vulnerable women need to know what to expect when they turn to authorities for help and it’s time for a more co-ordinated approach. That’s why Labour has committed to appointing a new Commissioner with responsibility for tackling domestic and sexual violence, to integrate the protection of women and girls across the Government and across the country too.”
Photo – Vera Baird QC, Police & Crime Commissioner for Northumbria and Chair of Commission, Catherine West and Seema Malhotra MP, Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls.
Notes to editors:
The report can be found on the Your Britain website: http://www.yourbritain.org.uk/agenda-2015/policy-review/everywoman-safe-everywhere