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Violence against Women

Volume 551: debated on Thursday 18 October 2012

5. What assessment she has made of the effects of Government policies on efforts to tackle violence against women. (123201)

The Government’s approach to tackling violence is set out in our strategy to end violence against women and girls and the supporting action plan. We monitor the delivery of the strategy and the impact of wider Government policies through regular cross-Government delivery boards, stakeholder meetings and inter-ministerial groups.

The Minister will be aware that earlier this year Professor Walby prepared a report showing that no fewer than 230 women every single day were denied refuge accommodation through lack of space. Has his Department made an assessment of that report?

The hon. Gentleman raises an extremely important issue, because refuges can play a key role in helping women who have been the victims of domestic violence, as I have seen in my constituency. That is the case across the country, as well, so I shall certainly consider any recommendations that we can incorporate further to improve our response to this terrible crime.

7. I am not keen on witch hunts or anything like that, but what has happened with Jimmy Savile has shocked everyone. What can the Minister say about the role of the Government in protecting young children and vulnerable people, and what lessons can be learned from the whole Jimmy Savile experience? (123204)

I am sure that my hon. Friend speaks for the whole House about the shock and revulsion felt at the allegations made against Jimmy Savile. It increasingly appears that a culture of abuse took place in the past and in my cases—it is important to remember—continues to take place. We need to learn lessons from this specific case and be vigilant in understanding the threat that exists in our communities here and now.

Today is anti-slavery day. Figures show an increase in reported cases of human trafficking, but we all feel that that is still the tip of a terrible iceberg that, of course, includes women and children being trafficked into prostitution. Given that tackling these terrible cross-border crimes relies on things such as co-operation with Europol, sharing data, criminal records and expertise, and the European arrest warrant, how on anti-slavery day do Ministers justify opting out of all those things?

I strongly endorse the hon. Lady’s starting observation about what a terrible crime human trafficking is, and it is our intention as a Government to be vigilant in tackling it more effectively. That is why we are creating the National Crime Agency, which will come into effect this time next year, and the issue is already a priority for the Serious Organised Crime Agency. It is important that we co-operate with countries across Europe—and, for that matter, further afield—to ensure that we have the highest level of resilience at our borders, but also before people get to that point.