The Government have today laid before Parliament and published a report on progress toward ratification of the Council of Europe convention on combating violence against women and domestic violence (the “Istanbul convention”). The UK sighed the Istanbul convention in 2012 to signal the UK’s strong commitment to tackling VAWG and this Government remain fully committed to ratifying the convention.
The report sets out the steps which the Government and the devolved Administrations have taken to tackle VAWG since signing the convention, and the remaining steps required as we progress toward ratification. The report is set out in line with the Istanbul convention’s key objectives and provides an overview of work being taken forward across the UK, with dedicated funding, for example £100 million for England and Wales, to ensure victims get the right support when they need it.
As this report sets out, in most respects the UK already complies with, or goes further than the convention requires. Since signing the convention, we have continued to step up our efforts to combat VAWG. We have significantly strengthened our laws and introduced new tools to protect victims. This includes the criminalisation of forced marriage, two new stalking laws, and the national roll-out of domestic violence protection orders and the domestic violence disclosure scheme and a new offence of domestic abuse covering controlling and coercive behaviour.
We know there is more to do. That is why we are introducing a new stalking protection order to protect victims at the earliest possible stage, and a landmark Domestic Abuse Bill, to transform our approach to these crimes. The Bill will protect and support victims, recognise the life-long impact domestic abuse can have on children, make sure agencies effectively respond to domestic abuse and extend our extra-territorial jurisdiction over VAWG-related offences in England and Wales.
The publication of this report fulfils the requirement of section 2 of the Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Act 2017. I will be updating Parliament on progress in due course.
Copies of the report will be available in the Vote Office and it will be published on the Government’s website at gov.uk.