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Domestic Abuse

Volume 716: debated on Monday 20 June 2022

This Government are committed to tackling violence against women and girls, including domestic abuse, and that is why we introduced the landmark Domestic Abuse Act 2021. In March this year we published our tackling domestic abuse plan, backed by more than £230 million of funding, including £75 million for tackling perpetrators and multi-year funding for interventions and support. The plan also includes expanding the roll-out of Domestic Abuse Matters training for police officers and, importantly, projects to protect children.

I welcome the tackling domestic abuse plan, which focuses on the perpetrators of a disgusting and destructive crime. Can I also stress the need for prevention and particularly for educating the next generation of children in schools about the importance of healthy relationships so that we do not continue to see this in the future? Can the Minister confirm that that is included in the plan as well?

My hon. Friend is right that prevention is the first pillar of our plan. We have set out how we are tackling perpetrators with specific programmes that are proven to prevent this disgusting crime from happening in the first place. It has to start very early, which is why relationships, sex and health education is now a statutory part of the curriculum so that children are taught the importance of respectful relationships.

Reports of domestic abuse now account for 24% of all calls to Norfolk police. Is the criminal justice system the right route for all these calls? If not, will the Minister set out how more appropriate steps can be taken to free up police time?

My hon. Friend raises an important point. As I said in my previous answer, tackling perpetrators is a vital part of our work, but our response goes wider than just the criminal justice system. That is why we are funding perpetrator interventions that reach out to tackle some of these unhealthy behaviours at source. We are investing more than £75 million over three years to achieve that end.

In July 2021, the Government announced that a domestic homicide sentencing review will look at unfairness in the sentencing of intimate partner domestic homicides. According to Counting Dead Women, at least 105 women have since been killed. The family and friends of these women face immeasurable pain from their loss, so where is the domestic homicide sentencing review, which is now six months late? For the sake of the women who will definitely be murdered next week, may I ask why there is such a delay?

The hon. Lady will know from our many debates in the House on this issue that we set out our holistic response to domestic abuse in the domestic abuse plan. If she looks at that, she will see all the work we are doing on the domestic homicide review. This matter crosses a number of Departments, and I am happy to write to her on the specific issue, but we are bearing down on people who murder their partners. That is why we introduced the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, why we are reforming the entire system and why we are putting multimillion pounds-worth of funding into tackling perpetrators, as I said to my hon. Friends the Members for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Aaron Bell) and for Broadland (Jerome Mayhew).