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Violence against Women

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 12th December 2011.

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Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry Conservative, Devizes 2:30 pm, 12th December 2011

What steps she is taking to tackle violence against women.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for the Home Department

A comprehensive cross-Government action plan on tackling violence against women and girls was published on 8 March this year. It includes 88 commitments from 12 Departments to improve the provision of services for victims of violence and to prevent violence from happening in the first place. We have already delivered 22 of those commitments.

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry Conservative, Devizes

I thank the Home Secretary for that reply. Also part of this Government’s work is a pilot scheme running in Swindon and Wiltshire in which perpetrators of domestic violence are effectively banned from the family home, rather than the family and the women being forced to move out, as happened previously. My right hon. Friend will be pleased to know that, since July, under the terms of the scheme, 82 abusive perpetrators have been removed from family homes. The head of Wiltshire victim support unit said that the programme is reaching women who have never been helped before. Will my right hon. Friend please tell us when the pilot might be rolled out nationally?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. She is absolutely right that domestic violence protection orders do what hon. Members across the House have always felt is right: ensure that when a domestic violence incident takes place it is the perpetrator who is not able to stay in the home, rather than the victim being forced out, as has happened so often in the past. We commenced a pilot in Greater Manchester, West Mercia and Wiltshire, and a second wave of pilot areas started in October in Grater Manchester and West Mercia, which we are looking to run for at least a year before we assess them properly.

Photo of Stella Creasy Stella Creasy Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

The Opposition welcome press reports this weekend that the Deputy Prime Minister wants to widen the definition of

domestic violence. Let me also offer Home Office Ministers our support if they wish to challenge the actions of their colleagues in the Ministry of Justice, who are seeking to restrict access to legal aid for victims of domestic violence. Does the Home Secretary agree that that should happen, so that we send a strong message to victims that they should not have to wait until the first punch is thrown before they get help?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The hon. Lady is right that we need to ensure that we have the right definition of domestic violence. That is why the Government are consulting on the appropriate definition and ensuring that we have a cross-Government definition, which, sadly, the previous Labour Government did not have.

Photo of Bob Russell Bob Russell Liberal Democrat, Colchester

I thank my right hon. Friend for her answer to the excellent opening question and urge her to look at the Home Affairs Committee report on domestic violence from the previous Parliament. If she implements its recommendations, a lot of the issues will be resolved.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I thank my hon. Friend for his reference to the work previously done by the Home Affairs Committee on this important issue. The Government are looking across the board at sources of proposals for dealing with this problem. As I have said, our cross-Government action plan included 12 Departments and made a significant number of commitments to ensure that we do what all in the House would want: end violence against women and girls.