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Safer Streets Fund

Volume 743: debated on Monday 15 January 2024

17. What assessment he has made of the potential impact of the safer streets fund on the safety of women and girls. (900929)

The objective of the safer streets fund and the safety of women at night fund is to enhance public safety in a direct and targeted way, neighbourhood by neighbourhood. Since 2020 the Government have invested £150 million across the two funds and the evaluation of round 1 of the safer streets fund, published in January last year, showed that the investment was boosting trust in the police and making communities feel safer.

Does the Minister justify the Government cut of 38% of the funding for projects to reduce violence against women and girls in Merseyside? They have cut £400,000, and one project will have to cease.

What I can tell the hon. Lady is that under the safer streets fund, £3.9 million has been allocated to Merseyside, including for a project in St Helens town centre. Let me remind her very gently of what that is funding. It has gone towards lighting, signage and improvement to taxi ranks, and one of the most radical measures of all is that it provides women with a free taxi service home, where the safer streets fund will reimburse the taxi driver the money they would otherwise have received, so that a woman does not have to find herself standing at a windy bus stop or walking home.

We welcome the safer streets fund, which will go some way to supporting the night-time economy that has been badly hit over 14 years. The Government’s efforts to tackle spiking have been completely undermined by the Home Secretary. Spiking is a serious and devastating offence. Why did the Home Secretary think it was appropriate to joke about spiking his own wife, and can he confirm exactly how many drops of Rohypnol he considers to be illegal?

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. I think it has been widely reported that the Home Secretary was making a joke about not being good enough for his wife. The point is that we are the first Government who have done something about spiking—it is not a new offence, and the measures to change the statutory provisions in the Offences against the Person Act 1861 could have been taken by the last Labour Government. The reason we have sought to clarify the matter in law is that we do not think that enough victims are coming forward, and the reason there are not enough prosecutions is the time lag in getting effective toxicology reports. That is why we are investing so much money in rapid drinks testing kits, so that hopefully we will be able to get the test done on site on the night, and get more of those offenders behind bars.