Today (7 November) the Government announced their legislative agenda highlighting a focus on protecting victims of violent crime.
Solace welcome the measures that will increase the multi-agency working for offenders of coercive or controlling behaviour, increased sentencing for offenders who murder their partner at the end of their relationship and criminalising the sharing of intimate images.
In response to the King’s Speech, Rebecca Goshawk, Head of Partnerships and Public Affairs said “To truly put victims and survivors at the heart of Government reform there needs to be more than simply a criminal justice response. Survivors need to be supported by specialist services, be able to access safe and affordable housing within the social or private rented sector and see reforms to the family courts so abuse is not continued through these justice processes.”
“To ensure the measures that the Government set out are effective we need a real commitment to ending the courts backlog, better response to survivors reporting to the police and confirmation that offenders convicted of violence against women are not avoiding prison due to reforms to sentences under 12 months.”
Solace is pleased to see that the Government didn’t bring forward plans to ban tents for rough sleepers and to penalise charities to provide them. We urge the Government to instead focus on passing the Renters Reform Bill which will ensure standards are improved in the private rented sector and tackle increasingly unaffordable rents across London so survivors can access housing.
We also welcome the return of the Victims and Prisoners Bill but for this to be a step change for victims we need to see:
- New and multi-year sustainable funding commitment for specialist violence against women and girls services
- A commitment to a separate funding pot for ‘by and for’ organisations supporting Black and minoritised women, survivors without access to public funds, disabled women, and LGBT+ survivors.
- Protection and support for migrant survivors who are still being left without support and vulnerable to abuse.
- Support for survivors of police perpetrated abuse through independent support and advice for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence perpetrated by serving or former police officers.