Policing and Prevention of Violence against Women - Statement

– in the House of Lords at 1:02 pm on 16th March 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

The following Statement was made in the House of Commons on Monday 15 March.

“With permission, Mr Speaker, I should like to make a Statement on the tragic death of Sarah Everard and the events of Saturday evening. I would like to begin by saying that my thoughts and prayers are with Sarah’s family and friends at this unbearable time. I know that every Member of this House will join me in offering her loved ones our deepest sympathies. While this is a horrific case, which has rightly prompted debate and questions about wider issues, we must remember that a young woman has lost her life and that a family is grieving.

Let me turn to this weekend’s events. I have already said that some of the footage circulating online of Clapham Common is upsetting. While the police are rightly operationally independent, I asked the Metropolitan Police for a report into what had happened. This Government back our police in fighting crime and keeping the public safe, but in the interests of providing greater assurance and ensuring public confidence, I have asked Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to conduct a full, independent lessons-learned review. The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has welcomed this and I will await the report and, of course, update the House in due course.

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge why Sarah’s death has upset so many. My heartache and that of others can be summed up in just five words, “She was just walking home.” While the specific circumstances of Sarah’s disappearance are thankfully uncommon, what has happened has reminded women everywhere of the steps that we take each day without a second thought to keep ourselves safe. It has rightly ignited anger at the danger posed to women by predatory men, an anger I feel as strongly as anyone. Accounts shared online in the wake of Sarah’s disappearance are so powerful because every single one of us can relate to them. Too many of us have walked home from school or work alone only to hear footsteps uncomfortably close behind us. Too many of us have pretended to be on the phone to a friend to scare someone off. Too many of us have clutched our keys in our fist in case we need to defend ourselves. And that is not okay.

Women and girls must feel safe while walking our streets. That is why we have continued to take action. Our landmark Domestic Abuse Bill is on track to receive Royal Assent by the end of April, and this will transform our collective response to that abhorrent crime. It builds on other measures that we have introduced, including the controlling or coercive behaviour offence and the domestic violence disclosure scheme, known as Clare’s law, which enables individuals to ask the police whether their partner has a violent or abusive past. We have also introduced new preventive tools and powers to tackle crimes including stalking, female genital mutilation and so-called upskirting, but we can never be complacent. That is why throughout the passage of the Domestic Abuse Bill, we have accepted amendments from honourable Members from political parties across the House. The Bill now includes a new offence of non-fatal strangulation, outlaws threats to disclose intimate images and extends the controlling or coercive behaviour offence to cover post-separation abuse. This is in addition to the Bill’s existing measures, which include a new statutory definition of domestic abuse that recognises the many forms that abuse can take—psychological, physical, emotional, economic and sexual—and, of course, the impact of abuse on children, as well as new rules to prevent victims from having to go through the pain of being cross-examined by their abusers in family and civil courts.

We all know that action is needed to improve the outcomes for rape cases, and we are currently developing robust actions as part of our end-to-end review of rape to reverse the decline in outcomes in recent years. At the end of last year, in December, I launched the first ever public survey of women and girls to hear their views on how we can better tackle these gendered crimes. On Friday, in the wake of the outpouring of grief, I reopened that survey. I can tell the House that as of 11 am today, the Home Office had received 78,000 responses since 6 pm on Friday. That is completely unprecedented, and considerably more than the 18,000 responses received over the entire 10-week period when the survey was previously open. I am listening to women and girls up and down the country, and their views will help to shape a new strategy on tackling violence against women and girls, which I will bring forward to the House later this year.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which we will shortly be debating, will end the halfway release of those convicted for sexual offences such as rape. Instead, under our law, vile criminals responsible for these terrible crimes will spend at least two-thirds of their time behind bars. Our new law will extend the scope of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 with regard to the abuse of positions of trust—something that predominantly affects young girls—and it will introduce Kay’s law, which will encourage the police to impose pre-charge bail with appropriate conditions where it is necessary and proportionate to do so. We hope that that will provide reassurance and additional protection for alleged victims in high harm cases such as domestic abuse. I note that the Opposition will be voting against these crucial measures to support victims of violent crimes, including young women and girls.

The Government are providing an extra £40 million to help victims during the pandemic and beyond. Last month we launched a new Government advertising campaign, #ItStillMatters, to raise awareness of sexual violence services and ensure that victims know where to get help.

Over the past year, during the coronavirus pandemic, the police have been faced with an unenviable and immensely difficult task—one that, for the most part, they have approached with skill and professionalism— of helping to enforce regulations, as determined by Parliament, with one crucial objective in mind: to save lives. On 6 January, this House approved those changes by 524 votes to 16. Sadly, as of Sunday 14 March, more than 125,500 lives have been lost to this horrible virus. It is for that reason that I continue to urge everyone, for as long as these regulations are in place, not to participate in large gatherings or attend protests. The right to protest is the cornerstone of our democracy, but the Government’s duty remains to prevent more lives being lost during the pandemic.

There will undoubtedly be more discussions of these vital issues in the days and weeks to come, but we cannot and must not forget that a family is grieving. I know that the thoughts and prayers of the whole House are with Sarah’s loved ones at this truly terrible time.”

Photo of Lord Rosser Lord Rosser Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport) 1:18 pm, 16th March 2021

I would first like to express our heartfelt condolences and sympathy to the family and friends of Sarah Everard. Her tragic and appalling death has shocked and shaken us all, as the reaction to it has shown. We know that, much as we might want to think we can fully understand the turmoil and unbridled grief her family and friends are going through, in reality there is no way we can.

The pictures and media reports of what happened on Saturday during the policing of the vigil at Clapham Common have rightly led to many expressions of concern. The Inspectorate of Constabulary is undertaking a lessons-learned investigation and we await its findings. I would appreciate the Minister indicating first when those findings are expected and, secondly, that they will be made public. It also seems that the Home Secretary had discussions with the Metropolitan Police about the vigil and that she subsequently asked for a report on what happened from the commissioner. Will that report be made public?

Can the Government say what the purpose was of the discussions that the Home Secretary had with the Metropolitan Police prior to and about the vigil? The Home Secretary has said that operational issues are a matter for the police, so can we have an assurance that the Home Secretary did not seek to influence the commissioner on what the operational decisions on the policing of the vigil should be? Is there a record of those discussions, and will it be made public?

The tragic death of Sarah Everard and the apparent circumstances surrounding it have highlighted the fears felt extensively by women and girls over their personal safety, and the extent of the harassment, abuse and violence, including fatal violence, that they face on an all too regular basis from men. To say that a solution is for women to stay indoors and be more careful is completely unacceptable. The solution lies in men changing cultures and attitudes towards women and leading that change. It is not women who should change their behaviour. It is men and wider society that must change.

It is clear that the Government have failed in their role of creating an environment in which women and girls do not walk around in fear outside and live in fear inside. The Statement by the Home Secretary goes to some lengths to set out what the Government believe that they have done, and what they propose to do, to ensure that women and girls can feel safe. It is a very defensive part of the Statement. That the Government felt it necessary to put it in the Statement at such length says it all.

Interestingly, the Statement makes no reference to the reduction in the number of front-line police officers over the last decade, which the Government are now trying to reverse, no reference to the failed and damaging reorganisation of the probation service, which has had to be reversed, and no reference to the impact of the cuts made in our criminal justice system as far as our courts are concerned.

The Statement does make reference to the Domestic Abuse Bill. It is a good Bill, but the Government know that there is more that they could and should be doing to ensure that all women can safely leave abuse and access refuge services, that women feel safe to report abuse to the police, that disabled women have protection when intimate caring relationships turn abusive, and plenty more that this House has asked for. In particular, yesterday this House voted to ensure the registering, monitoring and supervision of serial abusers and stalkers—in essence, dangerous and predatory men—and to require a strategy on perpetrators. What will the Government now do about delivering that? They have come forward with plans to increase CCTV and street lighting, and to put more police in bars. That will make hardly a dent in the real problems. The real issue —as we are told by women who are shouted at while they are out running, who are followed on public transport, who are unsafe as they walk home—is not the lighting on the street but the perpetrators and harassers on the street.

We have put forward a 10-point plan on what now must happen. We must particularly address the low level of rape charges and convictions, and the need for new laws to stop harassment. Will the Government use the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to tackle these issues? At the moment, the Bill seems more concerned with statues than with women. Are the Government now prepared to work with us and others in a collaborative way, to put forward and promote measures that will fully address the concerns that so many women and girls feel about their personal safety in this country today?

Photo of Lord Paddick Lord Paddick Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

My Lords, my heart goes out to the friends and family of Sarah Everard. I cannot imagine the pain and grief that they feel at this time. It also goes out to all women and girls whose fear of being attacked has, understandably, increased as a result of these terrible events. I also say to each and every decent and honest police officer—some of whom have contacted me, shocked and concerned about how recent events have made their job of protecting and reassuring the public more difficult, not just because of the allegations made against someone in their own ranks but because of the serious mishandling of the vigil on Clapham Common by their own senior officers—that I understand how they feel.

I was an advanced public-order-trained police officer—a senior officer trained to the highest level to deal with situations such as that faced by the police on Saturday—and I have been in charge of policing numerous high-profile events. What went wrong? I say first to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner that I make no criticism of the officers on the ground carrying out the orders of their senior officers. I am not an armchair critic of operational police officers making difficult decisions in real time on the ground. However, I am a critic of the senior police officers who set and devised such a disastrous strategy and then implemented it from the calm of the control room.

One of the first lessons that you are taught as a senior public order officer is not to ban gatherings. Organisers can work with you to implement restrictions; they can provide stewards to marshal those attending, and they can make public appeals that this should be a peaceful, socially distanced, candlelit vigil. Instead, the organisers were forced to withdraw, local authority Covid marshals could not be deployed, and the police were set against the public. Those seeking confrontation with the police, and who have nothing to do with women’s safety, potentially saw an opportunity, and the chances of being able to safely and peacefully police this vigil faded into the distance.

The appalling scenes that we saw on Clapham Common on Saturday were the inevitable result of decisions made by the police long before they forcibly broke up those who had gathered, albeit irresponsibly close together in large numbers. The decisions that the police made were even more unbelievable when you consider the circumstances that gave rise to the vigil in the first place.

The Home Secretary has said that she discussed the policing of the vigil with the commissioner on Friday. What advice did she give to the police about the way that it should be handled? I can understand someone with no training and no experience suggesting a zero-tolerance approach to the vigil, but not highly trained and experienced senior police officers. I appreciate that the Minister cannot account for the actions of the Mayor of London, but he should be asked the same question. That is why the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, has written to them both asking exactly this question.

What about the response? No, Home Secretary, the scenes at Clapham Common were not “upsetting”; they were totally unacceptable. A so-called independent review has been commissioned from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, which has just published a report that concludes that the police must find the correct balance between the rights of protestors and the rights of others, and that:

“The balance may tip too readily in favour of protestors”.

Does the Minister seriously think that HMICFRS is the right body to conduct this review, in the light of its report, published only five days ago? I know that the Minister agrees with me that knee-jerk reactions are not the best way to find lasting solutions to serious problems.

We have seen too many media reports showing perfectly lit CCTV footage of women being attacked to believe that more lighting and CCTV are the answer. Because of government cuts to local authority budgets, many councils have had to switch off their cameras or have given up live monitoring because they can no longer afford to maintain an effective CCTV system. Putting plain-clothed police officers in the pubs and clubs to identify vulnerable women and potential perpetrators would not have saved Sarah Everard. Asking a group of people who are themselves the focus of criticism what immediate action should be taken is unlikely to come up with the right answer.

What should we do? We need not just to record offences motivated by sex or gender but to make misogyny a real hate crime, where victims are given enhanced support and courts treat misogyny as an aggravating factor. We must teach young people how to treat each other with dignity and respect. We need a culture change that rejects the authoritarian populism that leads to misogyny, xenophobia and intolerance of diversity. And we need an investigation into whether a Metropolitan Police officer being accused of the kidnap and murder of a woman, another Metropolitan Police officer being accused of sharing sick graphics and jokes at the scene of her murder, and other Metropolitan Police officers being accused of taking selfies with the body of a murdered woman, are signs of serious problems with the culture in the Metropolitan Police. One serving Metropolitan Police officer I know and trust told me in a message on Friday that he is “counting down the years until I can retire and get out of this poisonous organisation.”

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

My Lords, I join the noble Lords, Lord Paddick and Lord Rosser, in expressing our thoughts, condolences and prayers to the family of Sarah Everard. Like the noble Lords, when I saw the pictures on Sunday morning and subsequently in the media, it was not just upsetting but really shocking. That is why the Home Secretary has not only asked for a report from the Metropolitan Police but has asked Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary to conduct a review. I can confirm that she had conversations with the commissioner and communicated with her all weekend. In terms of influence, noble Lords will know that the Government do not seek to influence the police. The police are operationally independent of government, and rightly so. I am sure that when the review takes place it will be made public, as the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked.

The noble Lord also made a point about men and wider society, and I could not agree more. Our young boys and growing young men are subjected to more and more malign influences, usually online. My noble friend had a discussion last night—and I thank him for that—about online pornography, which we will be dealing with in the online harms Bill. There is also the issue of what a good, healthy sexual relationship looks like, which schools deal with. I reject the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, that the Government have created this environment. Right from 2010—some 11 years ago—successive Conservative Governments have done so much to end violence against women and girls. We are now considering Report stage of the Domestic Abuse Bill, and I say to the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, that I feel there has been an incredibly collaborative approach across the House, with the Government listening very hard and making many concessions throughout the Bill, acknowledging that we are listening and we can make the legislation better.

The noble Lord talked about a register of stalkers; we had a discussion about that as well. As I said yesterday, where we are seeking to get to is no different; it is how we get there. I explained yesterday that I thought that adding a category to the register without dealing with some of the underlying problems in the processes would not solve the problem, but I do not think we disagree that we need to make sure that all people who are at risk of stalking and sexual offending need to be captured under MAPPA and through ViSOR if necessary.

The noble Lord also asked about the perpetrator strategy. We will be issuing the domestic abuse strategy later this year. Of course, it will contain measures to deal with perpetrators because fundamentally, they are the problem underlying domestic abuse. We will not be having a separate strategy, as noble Lords asked, because it is so linked with domestic abuse that it would be wrong to separate it.

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, talked about not banning gatherings. We have lived through unprecedented times. One of the reasons why I am not speaking in the House is that I have had to self-isolate. So many people have had to give up their freedoms in pursuit of keeping the number of Covid infections low and preventing deaths, and this is only one of those measures.

The noble Lord asked whether HMICFRS is the right organisation to deal with this. I think it is; it is very experienced in this sort of activity. He also made the point, which I wholeheartedly agree with, about knee-jerk responses being the worst type of responses. It is right that we reflect on what has happened and that the review be undertaken. On timescales, I know that the terms of reference and the scope of the review will be dealt with very quickly.

The noble Lord also talked about making misogyny a hate crime. The Law Commission is looking into what types of crimes should be added to the hate crimes list, and it will be deliberating later on this year.

The last point he made is that we need a fundamental culture change. I totally agree. Women should not feel that they cannot walk home alone. It appears that Sarah Everard was not walking home particularly late. Women should not feel that they have to, as my right honourable friend the Home Secretary said, clutch their keys as they walk along the street. Men should respect women. We need to engender a culture of respect.

Photo of Lord McNicol of West Kilbride Lord McNicol of West Kilbride Deputy Chairman of Committees

We now come to the 20 minutes allocated for Back-Bench questions. I ask that questions and answers be brief so that I can call as many speakers as possible. I call the noble Baroness, Lady Jenkin of Kennington.

Photo of Baroness Jenkin of Kennington Baroness Jenkin of Kennington Conservative 1:37 pm, 16th March 2021

My Lords, on 7 March I received an email from a young friend saying “Please help. One of my closest friends from university is missing”, but it turned out that we were all absolutely helpless. I send her and all Sarah Everard’s friends and relations the greatest possible sympathy.

I welcome the review of the policing of the vigil, as we have to get back to the public trusting the police. I also welcome the extension of the consultation into violence against women and girls, and I am glad that so many additional people have engaged in that exercise. My question, to which the Minister has already responded in part, is: how are we to help and prioritise, so that boys can grow up with a healthy attitude towards girls and with respect for them, given how the internet has changed everything beyond recognition in such a short space of time? We have not kept up with this. Only 15 years ago, boys would have had to reach up to the top shelf; now, they have free access to hard-core porn in their pocket, broadcasting violent and rough sex and the subjugation of women, so that it now seems normal to them.

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

My noble friend and I agree wholeheartedly on this point. The values that you give your children as they are growing up and some of the influences that they see around them shape them as adults. Tragically, there are young boys who grow up now thinking that non-fatal strangulation and violent acts upon women are part of what makes a sexual experience. We all know that sex is bound in love, and you do not show your love towards someone by practically beating them to a pulp or suffocating them. My noble friend is right to raise this question. I am very much looking forward to the online harms Bill, which places on communication services providers a duty of care for their users. That is one part. The other part is some of what children are taught in school and some of what they see at home. We are in the middle of considering the Domestic Abuse Bill. Sadly, some children think that what they see at home is the norm. We need responsibility from not only parents but online providers and society in general.

Photo of Lord McNicol of West Kilbride Lord McNicol of West Kilbride Deputy Chairman of Committees

My Lords, we have only 20 minutes for questions and there are 15 more speakers. I know it is difficult, but if we can keep questions and answers brief there are a lot of noble Lords who wish to get in on this important issue.

Photo of Lord Harries of Pentregarth Lord Harries of Pentregarth Crossbench

Surely what is needed, as the Minister suggested, is a fundamental rethinking by men of their attitude to women. I feel every sympathy with those women who justifiably feel vulnerable and angry at the moment. What practical steps are the Government taking to ensure that more is done about this in schools? The law has only a limited effect; there must be a fundamental change of attitudes, and that begins right in the earliest days at school. Is it worth looking, for instance, at what is being taught under the heading of moral and social education? Is some kind of review of that needed?

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

The answer to the noble and right reverend Lord is that we have now made relationship and sex education obligatory in secondary schools, and relationship education is now in primary schools, which is absolutely right. There is more that we could do. This is not just about schools, but perhaps some of the ways that children behave at school reflect what their home lives teach them that relationships and behaviour look like. The education environment is incredibly important for children, but so too is the home environment.

Photo of The Bishop of Gloucester The Bishop of Gloucester Bishop

My Lords, I too want to assure Sarah Everard’s family and friends of my thoughts and prayers. A couple of times in this House I have mentioned the work being done in Australia, the first country in the world to develop a national framework to prevent violence against women and girls. “Change the Story” identifies gendered drivers of violence and engages people where they live, work, learn and play. Will the Government take a serious look at Australia’s work and see what we can learn? Regarding the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, we will not be doing the right service to violence against women and girls unless we also ensure that we address the issue of that large group of women in prison for minor but repeated offences. Many are there because of the violence towards them and they need appropriate trauma-informed, community-based provision. Can the Minister assure the House that the issues about crime and sentencing will be looked at in a rounded and not a disconnected way?

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

I would say yes to the last question. Regarding the first question and what they do in Australia, yes, I am always happy to learn from others.

Photo of Baroness Blower Baroness Blower Labour

My Lords, alas we all know the figures for violent crimes against women. No woman should feel unsafe or in fear in her home, on our streets or in our parks, so in the strategy to protect women and girls how will the Government address the need for major behaviour and culture change among men and boys, including through education and teacher training? Violence against women is a men’s problem. It will be long said of Sarah Everard, to whose family I too offer profound condolences, that she was just walking home. Women on Clapham Common on Saturday night were remembering Sarah Everard and it was not for police to manhandle them. The Metropolitan Police got it badly wrong. As advised by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick: do not ban gatherings.

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

On the rights and wrongs of the Metropolitan Police, I have laid out clearly that the Home Secretary has asked it for a report and asked the Chief Inspector of Constabulary to undertake a review. I agree with the noble Baroness: it might be towards men, but a lot of this stems from men. The respect agenda, which lies at the heart of it, is fundamental to what she is talking about.

Photo of Baroness Hussein-Ece Baroness Hussein-Ece Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Equalities)

My Lords, I too send my heartfelt thoughts and prayers to Sarah Everard’s family and friends on their unimaginable and tragic loss. The scenes of last weekend were extremely shocking. The police force needs to understand the scale of feelings and the loss of confidence by so many. This past week, a survey for UN Women found that 97% of 18 to 24 year-olds have been sexually harassed. Very few report this but almost every woman has experienced it. We need real change and a longer-term strategy to tackle what has been described as the toxic masculinity that is endemic across our society. Misogyny is a hate crime and I was concerned to hear the Minister say that this is to be looked at by the Law Commission. It needs a simple change in legislation. Kerb-crawling needs to become an offence. Will the Government look into this? Rape prosecutions have dropped every year for the past five years and are now at a record low. What has happened to the Government’s rape review, established two years ago? Women want to feel safe and be believed when they report an assault or rape. They want to feel secure and supported within our society.

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

The rape review is ongoing and it has not gone away. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary mentioned it yesterday. The noble Baroness made a point about kerb-crawling; I think it could be termed street harassment. Of course, there are stalking, harassment and public order offences which cover that. To go back to the point about knee-jerk reactions, it is right that the Law Commission should opine on misogyny before we start bringing in laws.

Photo of Baroness Newlove Baroness Newlove Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

My Lords, watching Sarah Everard’s case unfold has been horrific. It brought back many memories for me as my late husband Garry Newlove’s murder was national news in horrific circumstances. My thoughts go out to Sarah’s family and friends. It is deeply distressing and traumatic for the family at this stage. We all know that 90% of murderers are men and 90% of sexual offences are committed by men. We know all the figures, so I reiterate to my noble friend that women have had enough of being blamed and their safety needs to be prioritised. We do not need more guidance; guidance alone will change nothing. We need cultural change and a multiagency perpetrator strategy that makes violent and abusive men visible. Can we have serial perpetrators identified, assessed and managed, just like police do with prolific robbers, burglars, car thieves and organised criminals? These men are domestic terrorists and women have had enough of them being allowed to run amok, and harm and kill so many.

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

I thank my noble friend for all the work she has done with me on the Domestic Abuse Bill. I say to her that serial perpetrators are often captured under VISOR because of the violent nature of their activities.

Photo of Lord Singh of Wimbledon Lord Singh of Wimbledon Crossbench

My Lords, the statement of firmer legal action and the announcement of better lighting and more CCTV cameras do little to address the causes of violent and unacceptable behaviour towards women. To me, a placard at last night’s vigil for Sarah Everard says it all: “Educate your son”. Does the Minister agree that, in our homes and schools, we are failing to teach the boundaries of unacceptable behaviour towards women and girls? Will she further agree that a Sikh injunction at a time of conflict—to treat women and girls as mother, sister or daughter—is a worthy ideal for all of us at all times?

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

The noble Lord talks such sense on these matters, and I agree with that “educate your son” placard. If we, as parents, do not teach our children the boundaries and they do not learn them at school, how will they know what is and is not acceptable, and how will they know what respect is? As the noble Lord says, failing to protect our women in turn fails to protect our children as well.

Photo of Lord Davies of Brixton Lord Davies of Brixton Labour

My Lords, I first endorse strongly the sentiments expressed earlier by my noble friends Lord Rosser and Lady Blower. My concern is that the title of the Statement, “Policing and Prevention of Violence against Women”, fails to acknowledge the true nature of the problem. We should not just refer to “violence against women”; we must always make it clear that it is really violence by men against women that is the problem. Every opportunity should be taken to emphasise that it is us men who are the problem. As such, I am glad that the Minister has mentioned the importance of culture. Therefore, the question is: what steps are the Government taking to play their part in the required cultural shift by men?

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

The noble Lord makes a very important point: we should not just say “violence against women”—we should say, “violence by men”. However, it is not always violence by men; it mostly is but not always. The Government are clearly in the middle of the Domestic Abuse Bill and all the provisions therein. I thank my noble friend Lady Newlove for bringing forward the issue of non-fatal strangulation, which seems to be much more at large in some sexual behaviour and, of course, often leads to death—it is often at the heart of domestic violence. We have done much on forced marriage and female genital mutilation, which are all particularly female-focused, of course. We have done much in the 11 years that we have been in power, and I pay tribute to my right honourable friend Theresa May, who was at the original inception of this.

Photo of Baroness Ludford Baroness Ludford Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

My Lords, I agree with all those who have called for a change of culture, attitudes and behaviour and better education for young men and boys—and indeed girls. However, will the planned new strategy on violence against women and girls have a comprehensive plan for how to get those changes? Secondly, in her foreword to the consultation on violence against women, the Home Secretary said:

“1 in 5 women will experience sexual assault during her lifetime”.

As my noble friend Lady Hussein-Ece said, a recent survey found that almost every single young woman in this country—97%—had experienced sexual harassment. Is it not time to adopt towards sexual violence a version of the so-called “broken windows” policing, whereby early intervention aims to deter and prevent more serious crime?

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

The noble Baroness will see some of the things that we have done in relation to perpetrator strategies and approaches, DAPOs, DAPNs and stalking protection orders. These are all measures to nip problems in the bud and prevent them from escalating into what could end up as full-on violence.

Photo of Baroness Sanderson of Welton Baroness Sanderson of Welton Conservative

My Lords, does my noble friend the Minister agree that one of the key things to make a difference to policing and the prevention of violence against women will be the Domestic Abuse Bill? It has been greatly improved by Members across this House, giving police clear new tools and challenging current norms of behaviour. Is it not now imperative that we get it on the statute book?

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

My noble friend is absolutely right, and it has been a pleasure to work with her, given all her experience—of course, she was part of the team that was at the heart of that Bill’s inception. It is crucial that we get it on the statute book; she is absolutely right that we have all worked together to achieve it. It has been much improved and, as so many noble Lords have said, it is a landmark Bill.

Photo of Lord Berkeley of Knighton Lord Berkeley of Knighton Crossbench

My Lords, I could not agree more with what we have just heard; it has been a privilege to listen to proceedings on that Bill and the noble Baroness in particular. I will make two points. First, as a nocturnal dog-walker of some decades, I have frequently noticed how walking behind a lone woman or girl is unsettling. The minute I cross the street, I see the shoulders relax; I suggest to my male colleagues that we ought to be more aware of that fact. Secondly, many in your Lordships’ House, and I include myself, have been pushing the police to come down more trenchantly on people who break the lockdown rules—Cheltenham was only a year ago. While the sensitivity displayed the other day was clearly wrong, we have to be honest and say that the police are damned if they do and damned if they do not. I feel that we have been pushing them to be more proactive in this field.

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

I totally acknowledge the noble Lord’s final point. It is also refreshing to hear a man say that he knows how women feel. I feel like that if I go for a run at night, and I thank him—I wish that there were more like him.

Photo of Baroness Goudie Baroness Goudie Labour

My Lords, my heart goes out to the family and friends of Sarah Everard—this is a nightmare that every parent has. I support the other speakers today and will ask the Minister about the Tom Winsor inquiry, which she mentioned. First, what are its terms, who else will be involved and what are its timings? It is important that it starts quickly, has short and sharp terms and reports within the next few months. It must not be an inquiry that goes on for years—the public and we would not take it seriously. Secondly, like many Members of this House, I have been on a number of demonstrations over my lifetime, and I have never seen the police behave in the way that they did on Saturday night. What is in the police training, towards men and women, that involves throwing a woman to the ground and jumping on her?

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

My Lords, the inquiry will establish just what did happen and the events that led up to Saturday night. As I said to a previous questioner, the scope and terms of the review will be announced and laid very quickly. I agree with the noble Baroness that it should take place at pace.

Photo of Lord McNicol of West Kilbride Lord McNicol of West Kilbride Deputy Chairman of Committees

My Lords, the time allocated has elapsed. This is a very important issue and there were a number of noble Lords and noble Baronesses who wanted to get in and ask important questions, so I remind people of the importance of brevity for future questions and answers so that we can hear from everyone.

Sitting suspended.