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Violence against Women and Girls

Volume 701: debated on Monday 18 October 2021

9. What steps her Department is taking to work with the police in helping to reduce violence against women and girls. (903763)

Cases including the sickening murder of Sarah Everard and the appalling murders of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman have caused immense pain and understandably prompted huge concerns. That is why the Home Secretary commissioned an inspection of the police response to violence against women and girls, and why we supported the recommendation to appoint a full-time national policing lead to drive forward progress on this hugely important issue.

I also extend my deepest sympathies to the families of Sir David Amess and James Brokenshire. Southend has lost two sons and we have lost two very special parliamentary colleagues.

I would like to recognise the work that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has been doing over the past few, very challenging weeks, which have had damaging implications for the relationship between the police and the safety of women. Last week, The Times reported that more than half of the disciplinary hearings that had been conducted over the past three years were held in private and almost no force published the findings. We know how important transparency is to public confidence, so will my hon. Friend the Minister tell us what steps she is taking to ensure that members of the public can see what is going on with their local force?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that public confidence in the policing response is vital to tackling violence against women and girls. I am determined, as is the Home Secretary, to do all we can to combat these sickening crimes. We are committed to ensuring that policing is subject to stringent levels of transparency and accountability. Misconduct hearings are chaired independently of forces by legally qualified chairs. Sometimes those hearings must be held in private, for several legitimate reasons. We will be looking at the matter further to ensure that the system is accountable to the public.

Obviously, all of us on the Opposition Benches wish to be associated with the words of the Home Secretary, and send our love and best regards to Sir David’s family. He was kind and good, but for me, above all else, he was funny and he did not take himself too seriously.

As for James, as the Immigration Minister he was incredibly approachable and kind; he was a good and thorough Minister.

I wish also briefly to say from Members on the Labour Benches, who know how it feels to have someone fall, that our love—through you, Mr Speaker—is with all the friends and colleagues of those who have died.

I simply rise to ask the Minister whether her Department has decided whether it is going to implement all the recommendations and the timeframe laid out in last month’s report of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, in order to improve our national response to violence against women and girls. In September, the Minister told the House:

“The Home Secretary has committed to considering the report’s full recommendations and will update Parliament when she has done so.”—[Official Report, 22 September 2021; Vol. 701, c. 287.]

An update on that position would be welcomed.

I thank the hon. Lady for her words just now.

Clearly the report that the hon. Lady mentions is a very important one, and the Home Secretary and Home Office are considering it in detail. We have already put in place a number of important actions, including appointing Deputy Chief Constable Maggie Blyth to her new role and chairing a new taskforce to drive cross-Government action. The Home Secretary has also announced an independent inquiry into the issues surrounding Wayne Couzens and the wider culture in policing.