Clause 15 - Guidance about independent domestic violence and sexual violence advisors

Part of Victims and Prisoners Bill – in the House of Commons at 11:45 am on 24 May 2024.

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Photo of Stella Creasy Stella Creasy Labour/Co-operative, Walthamstow 11:45, 24 May 2024

I want to associate myself with everything that has been said about infected blood. I also want to call to the attention of this House the cross-party working on Lords amendment 45, particularly by Baroness Morgan, Baroness Finn, Baroness Brinton, Baroness Thornton, Lord Ponsonby and Lord Russell, to protect victims of malicious harassment.

I thank the Minister and his team; he knows that this has been an issue that many of us have been vexed about because we have been victims of it ourselves. He has been patient, and he recognised that we could not simply say, “This won’t happen again,” and that we needed to put something into law. In that sense, I pay tribute to all the lawyers and experts on stalking who have assisted us, and we cannot let the Bill go through this place without acknowledging the work of the victims’ commissioner for London, Claire Waxman, who is sat in the Gallery this afternoon and who has tirelessly fought for victims legislation.

I have a few questions about Lords amendment 45— I would not be taking part in the debate if I did not. The amendment is about stopping harassment. At the moment, even if somebody who makes malicious complaints is convicted, it is not clear to many data controllers that because the records have been created by a process of malice, they should be deleted. As a consequence, victims find themselves being pursued based on those records, and the amendment would give people a direct right to request a deletion.

The Minister will know there is a concern that some of the exemptions could be broad. Will he commit to giving clarity on when those exemptions cannot be used for malicious complaints, as was done in the other House, and to giving protection to victims who are targeted in this way? Many of us in the public realm will be targeted; we have an election coming up, and we know that this will happen. Many of us want to face public scrutiny, but our families should not have to pay for the price for it, which is what so often happens with these records. Could the Minister commit to providing formal guidance?