Thank you for contacting me about the murder of Sarah Everard and violence against women and girls. My thoughts continue to be with Sarah's family and loved ones at this devastating time. The Prime Minister has been clear that all the answers to this horrifying crime must be found and I send my support to all those who are investigating. I have always been clear that protecting women and girls from violence and supporting victims is of the utmost importance. I was glad to stand on a manifesto which pledged to continue the fight against the perpetrators of violence against women and girls.
I am proud that this country is built on the historic values of unity, inclusivity, tolerance and mutual respect.
Hate crime, in all its forms, goes directly against these values and it is completely unacceptable that anyone in our society should live in fear of intimidation or violence. As such, we must stand up for diversity and face down discrimination wherever we see it. I very much welcome the progress of the Domestic Abuse Bill in Parliament.
The Bill will create a legal definition of domestic abuse to provide clarity that domestic abuse can be financial, verbal and emotional as well as physical and sexual and that critically it is about patterns of abuse over time. As part of this definition, children will be explicitly recognised as victims if they witness abuse.
It is good news that the controlling or coercive behaviour offence will be extended to include abuse where perpetrators and victims no longer live together. This change follows a review which highlighted that those who leave abusive ex-partners can often be subjected to sustained or increased controlling or coercive behaviour post-separation.
Measures in the Bill also include the introduction of new Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to further protect victims and place restrictions on the actions of offenders.
I particularly welcome the fact that the Bill will invalidate any courtroom defence of consent where a victim suffers serious harm or is killed. A Domestic Abuse Commissioner has also been appointed to stand up for victims and survivors; raise public awareness; monitor the response of local authorities, the justice system and other statutory agencies; and hold them to in tackling domestic abuse. I note the Government has continued to take action to combat these abhorrent crimes by ificantly strengthening our laws and introducing new tools to protect victims.
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By the time the Domestic Abuse Bill comes into force, we will have legislated for the following since You will probably have also noted the very ificant cash uplift for Domestic Abuse Helplines during the looking, a boost for refuge spaces, and the itstillmatters and youarenotalone Government campaigns to help spread awareness of support services for domestic abuse victims. It is right that the most serious offenders, including those who have committed violent and sexual offences should spend more time in prison to match the severity of their crimes.
The Prime Minister has been clear that the Government he le will strengthen girl confidence in the criminal justice system and I will support legislation deed to achieve this. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill contains vital new measures to protect women and girls, including tougher sentences for sex offenders. As you are probably aware, the Bill was voted through Parliament on 16th March. This will extend the approach outlined above by ending the halfway release Craig offenders sentenced to between four and seven years for serious crimes, including rape.
It is incredibly disappointing that Labour voted against this Bill which aims to increase conviction rates for and increases sentencing sex domestic and sexual abuse, as you call for.
I trust Calderdale Labour Councillors who co-ed correspondence rightly expressing concern about violence and harassment directed at women and girls will be challenging senior members of their party on their reasons for not supporting these measures.
Since the publication of the Hate Crime Action Plan in I have been encouraged by the progress that has been made, which has seen an increase in reporting and improvements in identification and recording of crime by the police. However, rates of attrition within the criminal justice system remain worryingly high and targeted online abuse continues to present a ificant problem.
While in contrast to overall trends, under-reporting still exists within specific groups. You may be aware of the wide-ranging Law Commission review into hate crime. Work on this is well underway and the review will identify any gaps within the current legislation and determine whether sex or gender should be added to hate crime law.
The Law Commission's consultation closed on 24 December and I am glad those with an interest, including perhaps yourself, had the opportunity to share their views. I am sure you will agree in the importance of allowing the Law Commission to complete its work in this area.
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However, it is welcome that the Government has announced that on an experimental basis, police forces will be asked to identify and record any crimes of violence against the person, including stalking and harassment, as well as sexual offences where the victim perceives it to have been motivated by a hostility based on their sex.
While this is not making misogyny a hate crime, it can inform longer-term decisions once the Government has considered the recommendations made by the Law Commission. You may be interested to know that the Government has reopened a call for evidence to further collect views from those with lived experience of, or views on, crimes considered as violence against women and girls.
The consultation ly ran for 10 weeks from December to February and was then extended until 26 March I entirely agree that street crime must be tackled firmly and effectively. It causes disruption and fear among communities and is particularly problematic in crime hotspots.
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While of course the Government will support police forces across the country to fight this crime, it is important to focus on those areas where criminals are operating persistently. It is welcome news that the Government has announced that the Safer Streets Fund will be doubled in size to crack down on neighbourhood crimes and provide further reassurance for everyone - women, girls, men, and boys. The Government has also committed to work with police forces and Police and Crime Commissioners to ensure these target areas of potential concern for women and girls and are now more focussed on preventing sexual violence.
I understand that this could include targeting parks and alleyways, and routes from bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
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The people of Calder Valley expect the Government to invest in the police and increase the of officers. The Government has been clear that this a key priority and is recruiting 20, additional by This funding will ensure that communities across the country can girl back safer from the Coronavirus pandemic and reduce crime. Sex, from my discussions with constituents, it is clear that more localised and targeted action is also required. That is why I believe we should welcome the Safer Streets Fund.
The funding will allow for small and simple changes such as locked gates around alleyways, increased street lighting and installation of CCTV. You may also be interested to hear that this funding will allow PCCs to train community wardens, deliver local crime prevention advice to residents and create Neighbourhood Watch schemes. I trust the Calderdale Labour Councillors who have ed your letter will be using their influence Craig encourage the Labour-run Council to welcome the Safer Street Fund and engage with West Yorkshire Police to help tackle neighbourhood crimes.
I will continue to monitor the levels and reports of crime across our constituency and I hope that this funding looking help link the police with local residents to ensure a united front against criminals causing harm to our communities.
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Sarah Everard and Violence against Women and Girls. Tougher sentencing It is right that the most serious offenders, including those who have committed violent and sexual offences should spend more time in prison to match the severity of their crimes. This change will mean that they will instead have to spend two-thirds of their time behind bars. Recognising misogyny as a hate crime Since the publication of the Hate Crime Action Plan in I have been encouraged by the progress that has been made, which has seen an increase in reporting and improvements in identification and recording of crime by the police.
The Government will of course consider the review's recommendations when they are complete.
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It is welcome that Ministers will be bringing forward the new strategy this year. Safer Streets Fund I entirely agree that street crime must be tackled firmly and effectively. Craig Whittaker MP March All rights reserved. Powered by Bluetree.