Skip to main content

Domestic Abuse

Volume 730: debated on Tuesday 28 March 2023

My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister and I have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues about tackling domestic abuse and how we can build on the progress already made. The Government have made good progress on our implementation of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, and the majority of measures are now in force. In February of this year, we announced additional measures to further tackle domestic abuse, including recording the most harmful domestic abuse offenders on the sex offenders register and classifying violence against women and girls as a national threat for policing for the first time. Just this month, we have announced tougher sentences for domestic abusers who kill their partners or ex-partners.

I thank the Minister for his answer, but several areas were not addressed in the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, and many of us believe that they need to be covered in the forthcoming victims Bill. Specifically, they relate to improving the support that survivors receive. It is now a year since the publication of the draft Victims Bill, and we are still waiting for its First Reading. Will the Minister update the House on what the timetable is likely to be, and whether, once introduced, it will address areas such as the lack of specialist services for minority groups, the lack of mental health support, and the gaps in provision for children?

As ever, I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her question and the tone in which she put it. She will have seen the draft Victims Bill, and our response to the prelegislative scrutiny report by the Justice Committee. On support, she will be aware that we have more than quadrupled the funding for victims of crime, up from £41 million in 2009-10. As the Minister who wrote the victims strategy when I was last in this post in 2018-19, like her I very much look forward to the victims Bill. I hope she will not have long to wait, and I look forward to it being brought forward in due course. When it is, I look forward to working constructively with her as it passes through this House and the other place.

Since questions began at 11.30 am today, 12 women across the country will have been raped. It is likely that not a single one of them will see their rapist charged. Those women have no Victims’ Commissioner and no victims Bill to protect them. Have not women suffered enough? How long will victims have to wait until they are put first in this broken justice system?

Under this Government victims are always put first. The hon. Lady raised two or three points, and she will be aware that reports and charges of rape, and receipts in the Crown court, have been going up. There is more to do in that space—we have been clear about that—but we have continued to drive progress, not least through the Operation Soteria approach that we have piloted in a number of areas. She mentioned the appointment of a Victims’ Commissioner, and my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister has been clear that we are in the process of recruiting for that role. I am sure she would wish us to follow due process—those on the Labour Front Bench have called for that on a number of topics—and that is exactly what we are doing. I urge her to be patient with respect to the victims Bill, and I hope she will shortly be satisfied on that score.