We are committed to ensuring that victims of crime receive the support that they need now, during covid, but also in the future. We are recruiting an additional 20,000 police officers, investing in the Crown Prosecution Service, and rolling out £76 million to support victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse, as well as vulnerable children.
I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Victims of domestic abuse in Redcar and Cleveland are supported and helped by fantastic local charities such as EVA Women’s Aid and Foundation. Will he outline how his Department are strengthening support services for domestic abuse and ensuring that they have the funding that they need?
I thank my hon. Friend for that excellent question. I also thank the domestic abuse charities, including EVA Women’s Aid, for the fantastic work they do in supporting victims of crime. We are committed to ensuring that vital support continues as we ease lockdown restrictions. In response to the pandemic, the Ministry of Justice has distributed £22 million to date as part of the package for charities supporting vulnerable people. As announced at the Prime Minister’s hidden harms summit in May, we have also committed to developing a funding strategy for all victims of crime, including domestic abuse, which will look at the longer-term sustainability of funding.
Previous figures published by the Department for Education have shown that more than 18,700 suspected victims of child sexual exploitation were identified by authorities in 2018-19. Several grooming cases brought to court have revealed abusers targeting vulnerable girls, particularly those in care, supported accommodation or with learning difficulties. It is gut-wrenching to hear, but the reality is that it is still happening. Will my hon. Friend confirm that he is dedicated to forming a joined-up support approach with police forces, local NHS services and children’s services to identify support for these victims, but also with the aim of preventing such abuse?
I thank my hon. Friend for that excellent question. Child sexual abuse and exploitation are truly abhorrent, and the Government are dedicated to taking precisely the joined-up action that he urges on us to prevent abuse and provide support for victims. The Government’s victims strategy outlines our commitment to improve support for victims of child sexual abuse to help them to cope. The Children and Social Work Act 2017 introduced the most significant reforms in a generation, requiring local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and the police to form multi-agency safeguarding partnerships.