Putney MP Says 'Enough is Enough' on Domestic Violence

Tells parliament that the justice system is letting down women and girls

Fleur Anderson at the White Ribbon march in Roehampton
Fleur Anderson at the White Ribbon march in Roehampton


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In a strongly worded speech to the House of Commons, Putney MP Fleur Anderson has said that the justice system is letting down women and girls in the way it deals with domestic violence.

She said “enough is enough” as prosecutions for violence against women and girls plummet and alleged that the extent of the Government’s action to tackle violence against women and girls simply does not reflect the scale of the epidemic.

The charge rate for rape has plummeted to just 1.3%, down from 5.9% in 2016. For sexual offences, the charge rate is just 2.9%, down from 8.3% in 2016. The proportion of rape victims giving up on getting justice and dropping out of the process now stands at more than 40%. This is up from 23.1% in 2015.

Fleur Anderson said, “This shows my age, but 30 years ago, I was campaigning and marching with other women to reclaim the streets. I am just heartbroken that our streets feel less safe for women and girls now than they did then.

“The number of people who are being let down by the justice system is shocking but not surprising. I recently spoke to a constituent who did not want to report their rape. They just did not want to go through the system. They did not want to talk about it, and they did not feel that the system would be on their side if they did.

“I have also spoken to constituents who reported their rapes and found the process traumatising. The whole system seems to be stacked against the victims of rape instead of against the criminals perpetrating it. That has to change.”

The Government has finally added violence against women and girls to the strategic policing requirement. This was welcomed by Ms Anders but she said it has come too late and far more is needed to crack down on dangerous perpetrators and support victims.

Rape and Serious Sexual Offence (RASSO) units are specialist teams working within police forces, providing vital expertise in investigating reported rapes and supporting victims. FOI data obtained by the Guardian shows that at least two fifths of police forces in England and Wales (17 out of 43) lack RASSO units.

Labour tabled an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill calling for the number of RASSO units in police forces to be increased, but the Government opposed it.

Labour has published a full green paper on ending violence against women and girls, which calls for an overhaul of police training and a specific training package on violence against women and girls. Other common-sense measures in the green paper include:

• New minimum sentences for rape and stalking
• A review into sentencing for domestic homicide and domestic abuse
• Criminalising street harassment
• A legal advocacy scheme for sexual offence victims
• Protecting migrant victims of domestic abuse

The Government has recently launched a pilot scheme to try to ensure domestic violence victims get better support when going through the court system.

Justice Minister Lord Wolfson QC said, This government is doing everything we can to protect victims, make them feel safer, and give them greater confidence in the justice system.

“These pilots will help ensure victims of domestic abuse aren’t further traumatised by the court process and that better decisions are made about their and their children’s lives.

“This, alongside our landmark Domestic Abuse Act, will ensure that victims are loudly heard and fully supported.”

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March 11, 2022

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