House of Lords debates tackling violence against women and girls
Updated: Jul 27
On 29 June 2023 the House of Lords held a debate on tackling violence against women and girls in the UK.
The debate was opened by Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe on behalf of Lady Drake who could not attend because of health reasons. Lord Sharpe of Epsom, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, responded on behalf of the government.
Baroness Warwick noted that violence against women and girls accounts for at least 15.8 per cent of all recorded crime; domestic abuse makes up a third of violence recorded by the police; and in the six months from October 2021 to March 2022, at least 507,827 offences against women and girls were recorded. That equates to two crimes per minute.
She concluded her speech with some proposals which, she said, demanded immediate action from the Minister:
‘Will he strengthen the Online Safety Bill to ensure that all platforms and service providers, including user sites and pornography providers, are subject to stringent requirements to protect children and women from online pornography? Will he strengthen the Victims and Prisoners Bill to ensure that every child victim is entitled to support, including specialist advocacy, if they are a victim of sexual abuse? Will he ensure that the code of practice sets guidance on how children’s rights will be met? Will he ensure that training in relationship, sex and health education teaching in schools takes a “safeguarding first” approach? Teachers should receive training on delivering sensitive topics, including pornography. Will he fund vital community-based domestic abuse services? Will he take immediate steps to rebuild women’s and girls’ confidence in our police and criminal justice system? These proposals are only a start but urgent action is needed now if women and girls are to be free to live and thrive in Britain today.’
Lord Sharpe outlined several of the initiatives undertaken by the government to tackle such violence. He said that the Online Safety Bill will cover all online sites that offer pornography, including commercial pornography sites, social media, video-sharing platforms, forums and search engines. He added that children will be taught about the importance of respectful relationships, as well as issues such as domestic abuse and sexual consent. The Department for Education is currently working to update the RSHE statutory guidance. On the issue of perpetrator interventions, raised by Lord Patten, he referred to work with perpetrators by the Drive Project which can result in substantial reductions in abuse and risk, with physical abuse reduced by 82 per cent and controlling behaviours by 73 per cent – for more information on a drive Project pilot operating in Bristol.
News Editor- Martin West
Family Law Week