In the last three years we have passed comprehensive new laws covering everything from domestic abuse and street harassment to online safety. Last year the Government added violence against women to the strategic policing requirement, placing it on equivalent footing to terrorism, and the Home Office’s award-winning Enough campaign is now entering its final phase with a firm focus on tackling perpetrator behaviour being rolled out across colleges and universities.
I welcome my hon. Friend to her place. I pay tribute to Sandra Conte and her team at Future Living in Hertford for everything they do to support victims of domestic abuse. As a magistrate, I specialised in domestic abuse courts and I am utterly convinced of their value, both for justice and for victims. Will my hon. Friend share her assessment of the initiatives to increase specialisation in court processes for sexual offending and sexual violence?
The specialist sexual violence support project is now under way in Crown courts in Leeds, Newcastle and Snaresbrook. It is at an early stage but is due to report in early 2025. However, my hon. Friend should be aware that any victim of rape or sexual assault may now take advantage of section 28 procedures, which have been rolled out nationwide to allow people to give their evidence privately and ahead of trial. We are also engaging close to 1,000 independent sexual violence advisers in the system to accompany victims every step of the way through the criminal justice system. As a result, rape prosecutions are higher today than they were in 2010 and sentences are approximately 50% longer.
It is a privilege to take on this important role. I pass on my thanks to my hon. Friend Jess Phillips for her dedication and commitment. I am looking forward to getting to work.
A shocking new study has found that domestic abusers are controlling the finances of more than 5 million women in the UK. This cannot be allowed to continue. The Government have turned a blind eye to this issue for more than a decade, so what steps is the Minister taking today to tackle economic abuse?
The hon. Lady and I have worked together a lot on domestic abuse since we were elected. She will know that economic abuse is basically a derivative of coercive control, which Clare Wade KC, in her review of domestic homicide, says underpins almost all domestic abuse. Tomorrow the Criminal Justice Bill has its Second Reading in the House. The Bill will see serious coercive control offences placed under the multi-agency public protection arrangements and offenders placed on the violent sexual and terrorist offender register.