Dominic Raab vows to make women’s safety his number one priority – as ministers fast-track work on a victims’ bill
- Ministers fast-tracking work on a victims’ bill in wake of Sarah Everard’s murder
- Dominic Raab said better protecting women was his ‘number one priority’
- Government sources said bill would strengthen rights of those in Sarah Everard’s family’s position
Ministers are fast-tracking work on a victims’ bill in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder, Government sources said last night.
Amid an overwhelming political clamour for action to better protect women and girls, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday vowed that the issue was his ‘number one priority’.
Asked what would change as a result of Miss Everard’s death, Government sources said a victims’ bill to strengthen the rights of those in the position of Miss Everard’s family would be published soon. It will enshrine in law the rights of victims to give impact statements and increase support for those who have suffered abuse.
Home Office sources also pointed to the strategy to combat violence against women and girls which was announced last summer.
Amid an overwhelming political clamour for action to better protect women and girls, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday vowed that the issue was his ‘number one priority’
A consultation on the strategy was extended following Miss Everard’s death, resulting in 180,000 additional responses.
But last night MPs demanded ‘concrete’ action on the issue, saying the country faced a ‘seminal moment’ with an opportunity to take meaningful action.
It is understood that the Government will take no immediate action to improve police vetting procedures, with the Home Office wanting to wait for inquiries by the police watchdog and the Metropolitan Police to conclude.
Responding to the sentencing of Miss Everard’s killer yesterday, Mr Raab tweeted: ‘The brutal murder of Sarah Everard has been utterly shocking and Wayne Couzens will rightly spend the rest of his life behind bars. Protecting women and girls is my number one priority as Justice Secretary – everyone should be able to walk home at night without fear.’
Senior Tory MP Caroline Nokes – who chairs the women and equalities committee – challenged the lack of action, telling the Mail: ‘Words are all well and good but something concrete needs to change. The Government should be seizing the initiative with this: There are loads of opportunities for legislation action coming down the tracks with the policing bill and the online harms bill.
‘This strikes me as a seminal moment to grab hold of and to put in place protections for women and girls. What I would love to see is Priti Patel and Dominic Raab put forward a justice strategy which puts women and girls at its heart.’
Sir Keir Starmer called for a victims’ law and vowed that Labour MPs would vote for the legislation as soon as it is introduced.
Asked what would change as a result of Miss Everard’s death, Government sources said a victims’ bill to strengthen the rights of those in the position of Miss Everard’s family would be published soon
‘We have got to change the law. We need a victims’ law,’ he told Sky News. ‘We have nothing in law that is there to support victims. We need legislation on violence against women and girls.’ Sir Keir, a former director of public prosecutions, also said that a review is needed to establish how Couzens was able to ‘slip through the net’ despite a series of ‘warning signs’.
Former minister and Labour MP Yvette Cooper called for an urgent investigation into violence against women and girls in the police service looking at ‘allegations and cases of domestic abuse, harassment, and sexual offences’.
She added: ‘This terrible case comes against a backdrop of failure across the criminal justice system to tackle the epidemic of violence against women and girls or to keep women safe.
‘Many women across the country have spoken about their deep lack of confidence in the police and criminal justice system.’
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