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Street Safety: Women

Volume 691: debated on Monday 22 March 2021

There is no place in our society for violence against women and girls. The hon. Gentleman will know that the Government are putting record levels of investment into the police and that there are more police officers on the streets. We as a Government are ensuring that those individuals who commit crimes against women and girls receive longer prison sentences, which was opposed by the Labour party.

Our hearts are with the friends and family of Sarah Everard after her tragic and brutal killing, which comes at a time when recorded rape has doubled since 2014 and when 99% of reported rapes are not charged. Will the Government now enable people instantly to report street nuisance and harassment from their mobile phones in texts and images to allow immediate police intervention? Will she also invest in immediate DNA same-day testing together with Nightingale courts to fast-track rape cases, so that women are safer and justice is done?

The hon. Gentleman has highlighted some important points around rape, sexual violence and abuse within the criminal justice. I can confirm that, as part of the work of the Crime and Justice Taskforce, the Government, with the Ministry of Justice and the courts system, are looking at a range of measures to see how we can do more to fast-track cases and also to make sure that victims are protected in the right kind of way, as the hon. Gentleman has said. Alongside that, a great deal of work has taken place across Government with the end-to-end rape review.

I am delighted to hear that the Home Secretary has finally joined up with us on trying to do better to address violence against women and girls, and that the taskforce was announced last week; we look forward to working with her. We are hopefully going to enter a new era on street harassment, thanks to the deeds of Labour women here in the Commons and in the other place, who pushed the Government to record misogyny as a hate crime. With that in mind, may I ask the Home Secretary what she intends to do to train police forces? Can she tell us why only half of English and Welsh forces have undertaken Domestic Abuse Matters training, even though research shows that where forces have received it, there is a 41% increase in coercive control arrests?

The Minister for safeguarding, the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Louth and Horncastle (Victoria Atkins), said over and over again last week that police training was important in improving the dreadful and worsening outcomes for abused women in this country, so how come, under her watch and the watch of the Home Secretary, only half of forces have undergone the necessary, proven training? Will the Home Secretary tell the House what she has done to ensure that all are trained, other than just saying she wants them to be? We need deeds, not words; otherwise, her Home Office will keep releasing more and more violent perpetrators back on to our streets.

Order. We must make sure that questions are short, in order to get through the list, but I do appreciate how important this subject is.

I am sorry that the hon. Lady has taken the tone that she has. [Interruption.] Well, many people are cross, but she should recognise that this should never become a partisan or party political issue. [Interruption.] I appreciate that she would like to chunter from the sidelines, but the fact of the matter is that when we look at the work done across this House and by all parliamentarians, no one individual holds the licence to determine the changes in outcomes that we collectively want to see for women and girls. If she was interested at all in getting justice and driving the right kinds of outcomes for women and girls, she would listen to what I have to say on this. A great deal of work is taking place. I am sorry she does not want to listen to the serious points that I am about to make about Government actions; she sits there pulling faces and nodding her head.

I have commissioned a thematic review of violence against women and girls in policing, which will be led by Her Majesty’s inspectorate. It will look at how the police deal with these issues. Over the last 12 months, through the National Policing Board, some very strong work has taken place across 43 police forces to look at the work and training in conjunction—[Interruption.] Would the hon. Lady like to listen to what I have to say, rather than the sound of her own voice? We are not just looking at the work of police forces; with the College of Policing, we are also looking at the training that is in place and where that training needs to be improved.

Of course, there are standards in the inspectorate, through which police forces are held to account. Those are important benchmarks of quality, but also outcomes; and it is outcomes that matter to the victims that we all care about. We want to ensure that there are fewer victims in the future, because all of us in this House—irrespective of our political party—want to ensure that women and girls, and victims, are safeguarded and protected in the criminal justice system.