To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the Government's policy paper entitled Ratification of the Council of Europe convention on combating violence against women and domestic violence, published on 1 November 2017, what discussions she has had with the devolved administrations on extra-territorial jurisdiction in respect of that convention.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what meetings she had with Women’s Aid, IC Change and other women's organisations before publishing the Government's policy paper entitled Ratification of the Council of Europe convention on combating violence against women and domestic violence on 1 November 2017.
The Government signed the Istanbul Convention to signal the UK’s strong commitment to tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG). As the recently published progress report sets out, in most respects the UK already complies with, or goes further than the Convention requires. We have significantly strengthened the legislative framework; introduced new protective tools; and issued a range of guidance and support for frontline professionals.
We have always been clear on our commitment to ratifying the Convention. The Domestic Abuse Bill will be another step towards meeting that commitment by extending extraterritorial jurisdiction over offences required by the Convention which, for England and Wales, is the final legislative step necessary for ratification. We are committed to consulting widely as we develop the proposals for the draft Domestic Abuse Bill. We are keen to hear from experts, including charities, service providers and legal experts, to understand their views and ensure that the voices of domestic abuse victims and survivors are heard. This will take place shortly.
As the criminal law and the majority of the areas covered by the Convention are devolved to Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Devolved Administrations are considering what legislative or other changes are necessary for compliance with the Convention in their territories. The Government liaises regularly with the Devolved Administrations on VAWG issues and we will continue working closely with the Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive to ensure we are taking a coordinated approach on this agenda.
We are also in ongoing discussions with the voluntary and community sector on these issues, and in line with the requirement of section 2 of the Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Act 2017, we will set out a timetable for ratification in due course.