I have today laid before Parliament and published the second annual report on progress toward ratification of the Council of Europe convention on combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul convention). The UK signed the Istanbul convention in 2012 to reaffirm the UK’s strong commitment to tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG) and this Government remain fully committed to ratifying the convention.
The report is structured in line with the Istanbul convention’s key objectives and sets out the steps taken by the Government and the devolved Administrations toward ratification of convention, and measures taken forward since the 2017 report on progress.
We are continuing to step up our efforts to combat VAWG. We will refresh the cross-Government VAWG strategy later this Session to ensure that we are doing all that we can to tackle those crimes that disproportionately affect women. The refresh will reaffirm the Government’s commitment to addressing VAWG in all its forms, capture new programmes of work, including the forthcoming draft Domestic Abuse Bill, and provide an update on the delivery of existing actions.
In most respects the UK already complies with or goes further than the convention requires. As the 2017 report on progress set out, since signing the convention in 2012 we have strengthened the law, introduced new protective tools, and issued a range of guidance and support for frontline professionals. But we know there is more to do. That is why in March this year, we launched our “transforming the response to domestic abuse” consultation on what more we can do to protect and support victims, recognise the lifelong impact domestic abuse can have on children and make sure agencies effectively respond to domestic abuse. As part of this, we have consulted widely with partners on the legislative and non-legislative steps we can take to ensure victims are afforded the greatest possible protection.
We will be publishing a Government response and the landmark draft Domestic Abuse Bill in due course. The draft Bill will include the provisions on extraterritorial jurisdiction over the specific offences necessarily for compliance with the convention 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.