This week I asked a question to the Minister for Crime Prevention, Norman Baker, about the progress that the Government is making on tackling violence against women and why there has been an 21% rise in incidents of domestic violence in Greater Manchester, which has seen 10,000 more domestic violence incidents reported to the police, yet 29% fewer cases have been referred for prosecution.
The scale is shocking. There are one in five violent crimes committed across the country with two million victims every year so this is far from fringe issue. Thirteen per cent fewer domestic violence cases are being passed to the CPS for prosecution and there are fewer convictions.
The HMIC report Everyone’s Business found that “The overall police response to victims of domestic abuse is not good enough and police forces need to take decisive action to rectify this” following an inspection of all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
It is no wonder that the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women’s report of 15th April 2014 found that efforts to address violence against women “have resulted in isolated pockets of good practice, which depend largely on the personal commitment of individuals and some authorities, but they are not applied consistently throughout the country.” And that “violence against women remains a pervasive challenge throughout the United Kingdom.”
What we need is strong leadership from the Government to raise standards across England and Wales to deliver far better performance to secure justice and safety for victims. Leadership that to date has been notable by its absence.
A Labour Government will hold the police to account by increasing transparency and making key performance data public; we will work with local forces to identify local problems and tackle them; and we will share examples of best practice.
Labour will also introduce a Commissioner to bring together the key stakeholders in poor performing areas to improve inter-agency working, especially support for victims through the criminal process.