Friday, January 30, 2009

david camerons pledge dec 2008

Cameron promises to tackle violence against womenConservative leader's pledge comes as the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, says the government will launch a consultation to find out what can be done to improve the safety of womenHélène Mulholland and agencies, Monday 22 December 2008 16.10 GMT
Article history
David Cameron today pledged that a Conservative government would fund 15 additional rape crisis centres to tackle violence against women.

The Conservative leader promised to spend £2.6m to increase the current network of crisis centres by a third as part of wide-ranging plans to conquer domestic violence, rape, forced marriage and trafficking.

The Tory leader sought to highlight his party's determination to stamp out violence against women as Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, said she was set to launch a consultation to find out what the governmment could do to improve the safety of women "in their homes, at work and in public".

The political commitments from both parties to beef up measures to root out violence against women came as Crimestoppers launched an appeal for people to give information about the domestic abuse of a family member, friend, colleague or neighbour over the Christmas period.

A spokeswoman said changes in the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 now allowed Crimestoppers to play a "more active part" in asking for information.

There was no risk to the anonymity of the caller, and their information could be "vital" in getting offenders prosecuted.

Crimestoppers spokeswoman Hannah Daws said: "Christmas is a time when many people socialise and invariably their alcohol consumption increases. A large proportion of domestic violence cases involve alcohol so it is important that people are aware that this devastating crime continues throughout the festive season."

Cameron used an interview with the Radio 4's Woman's Hour to promise that a Tory government would implement a cross-departmental strategy on tackling violence against women and ensure that all police recruits receive appropriate training on issues such as domestic violence, stalking, female genital mutilation, rape, "honour"-based violence, and forced marriage.

Three million women in Britain experience violence each year, according to the Tories. Domestic violence accounts for 16% of all violent crime, and over 80% of its victims are women.

The Tory leader said he would end the process of short-term annual funding decisions by introducing stable three-year funding cycles for rape crisis centres.

The proposals, outlined in a document entitled Ending Violence Against Women, also include provisions for the teaching of sexual consent compulsory in the sex education curriculum and clear guidance to teachers about specific forms of violence against women.

Women housed in refuges following domestic violence would also be allowed a "three-month grace period" during which they would not have to seek work in order to qualify for jobseeker's allowance, Cameron explained.

The Tory leader said his party and the government had much "common ground" on the issue of domestic violence.

He said: "We should work together on this very important issue, which is trying to end the violence that takes place against women in our society - 3 million women every year suffer some sort of violent attack.

"I think the difference is that we've produced this document today, which is a cross-departmental strategy, and the government haven't yet done that."

The Tory leader said there were many different forms of violence against women and they required "different answers".

Smith said she was set to launch a consultation to find out what ministers could do to improve the safety of women "in their homes, at work and in public".

She said domestic violence was a "devastating hidden crime" and the government was determined to tackle it in all its forms.

Successful prosecutions against perpertrators have risen from 46% to 72% in the last five years as a result of improvements in the criminal justice system, said Smith.

"We now have 104 specialist domestic violence courts and we have committed over £6m to support the expansion of independent domestic violence advisers and multi-agency risk assessment conferences across the country."

The government was increasing its efforts over the Christmas period through a domestic violence enforcement campaign in 10 police forces, she added.

Smith said: "But we know there is still more to be done, particularly in the area of prevention by better identifying potential victims.I want people to recognise that we all have a role to play in ending violence against women."

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