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Preventing Violence Against Women and Girls

Volume 704: debated on Monday 22 November 2021

3. What steps she has taken to support local partnerships to help prevent violence against women and girls. (904263)

Our strategy is a whole-system approach, with different local agencies—for example, the police, healthcare and social care—working together to ensure more effective interventions. To that end, we have put in place guidance, training and online resources for the police and healthcare and educational professionals, and we will shortly be refreshing our national statement of expectations to support local areas in commissioning services.

The unacceptable and continued prevalence of misogyny and violence against women and girls highlights the need for multi-agency partnerships, but the funding is woeful, yet the challenge is great. Will the Minister ensure that the police, who are ever focused on crime detection rather than crime prevention because of the lack of resources, have the resources at hand to build the multi-agency partnerships that are vital to change the culture?

I reject what the hon. Lady says about funding and resources. In her area, the police are receiving their fair share of the 20,000 additional police officers we have pledged to hire. She will already see 114 additional officers in her area, and the police are receiving up to £171.7 million of funding—an increase of £5.5 million—so I suggest that she talks to her local police and crime commissioners and ensures that they are prioritising that funding in the right way.

Domestic violence is one of the ugliest and saddest outcomes of some of the measures that the Government were forced to introduce to handle the covid pandemic, but may I draw the Minister’s attention to the excellent work of the domestic abuse charity Atal y Fro in my constituency, which has encouraged GPs to follow the IRIS—identification and referral to improve safety—programme, enabling them better to identify some of the more prevalent symptoms among victims of domestic violence?

I thank my right hon. Friend for drawing the attention of the House to that excellent programme, which highlights the important role that frontline GPs have in identifying and getting help to victims. I have been informed that he ran the London marathon to raise funds for a charity in his area. I congratulate him on all the hard work that he is doing; I am sure that those services will benefit enormously.

I have a point about the funding. The Randox contract that was granted without any tender is five times the amount that we spend on domestic violence refuges for the entire country—just FYI.

In September, Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary and fire and rescue services published a report making clear the current failings, and pushing for the implementation of its urgent recommendations to improve our national response to violence against women and girls. On 22 September, 18 October and 8 November, I asked the Minister if and when the Government would implement the recommendations in full. I am at risk of sounding like a broken record, as I ask again now: will the Minister today commit to keeping to the very detailed action plan commanded by the inspectorate within the timescale that it states? I do not want to hear again, or in a few weeks’ time, that the Department is still looking closely at the recommendations. Will she commit to them today?

If I may just make a point on funding, I am sure that the hon. Lady would welcome the fact that the Government are providing £300 million of support for victims and witness support services this year.

No, that is not relevant. This is a very important subject, and victims and support services deserve to know that this Government are on their side.

Let me turn to the report referenced by the hon. Lady. This is not a broken record. These are the facts: we are responding and taking action, which is why the Home Secretary is leading on a ministerial group across Government, bringing together the whole of Government to bear down on the recommendations outlined in the report—[Interruption.] Perhaps the hon. Lady would like to listen to the Minister. We have also appointed Maggie Blyth to lead the work across the entire police force and criminal justice system that will focus on addressing violence against women and girls, which is a priority for this Government.