Amendment 277

Part of Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill - Committee (10th Day) – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 22nd November 2021.

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Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Labour 5:45 pm, 22nd November 2021

My Lords, I have added my name to the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Newlove; I also support my noble friend in her powerful advocacy for her own amendment.

I want to emphasise a couple of points made by the noble Baroness. She referred to HMIC report, Police Response to Violence Against Women and Girls. I must say it makes for very sober reading about the inadequate response of many police forces to these issues. We know from the report and from the statistics referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Russell, that many cases do not proceed through the criminal justice system and, of the offences that do come to the attention of the police, many do not proceed any further. I would not argue that time limits are the sole reason, but they are a factor. I am indebted to Refuge, which does fantastic work in this area, for setting out some of the challenges that particularly women experiencing domestic abuse face and why they delay reporting incidents of common assault. They may feel understandably traumatised or physically unsafe immediately after the incident. They may still be in a relationship with the perpetrator. They may be dealing with the traumatic and logistical challenges of fleeing the scene.

Due to the six-month time limit on charging summary common assault offences, by the time many women are ready to speak to the police, they are told that the charging time limit has passed and there are no further opportunities for them to seek justice against their perpetrator or access protection through criminal restraining orders. There are so many reasons why, quite legitimately, women in particular are not able to come forward and meet the time limit. I appeal to the Minister not to respond with a typical ministerial response but to say that he will take this away and look at it. I echo the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Russell. I have noticed the practice of announcements being made in the media about what the Home Secretary is going to do but then often dying a death. We realise that sometimes they are flying a kite to see how it lands, but this is not the way to do business on such sensitive and important issues. I hope that the Minister will bring us comfort.