Last week, our Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the Criminal Justice Taskforce, setting out the immediate steps that the government are taking to ensure women and girls feel safe. The horrific murder of Sarah Everard shocked us all. While terrible crimes like this are rare, it is a reminder of the steps women take on a daily basis to keep themselves safe - something I recognise may not always be obvious to me as a man.
Alongside bringing in landmark legislation to toughen up sentences for sex offenders and putting more police officers on our streets, I welcome that the government are taking immediate steps to ensure women and girls feel safer. We must drive out violence against women and girls and ensure every part of the criminal justice system works better to protect and defend them.
The government is investing an additional £45 million on practical measures to ensure women feel safer in the night-time economy and in our communities, including additional funding for the Safer Streets Fund, for crime cutting interventions in residential areas. They are also piloting the internationally award winning ‘Project Vigilant’ which sees both uniformed and plain-clothed officers identify predatory and suspicious offenders in the night-time economy.
The ground-breaking Domestic Abuse Bill strengthens protections for victims, whilst also tackling perpetrators at the earliest stage to ensure they feel the full force of the law. New protections placed into the Bill widen the scope of controlling and coercive behaviour, make non-fatal strangulation a specific criminal offence, and widen so-called ‘revenge porn’ laws to include threats.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill delivers on Conservative promises to make our streets and communities safer by ensuring dangerous criminals spend longer behind bars. Long overdue in my opinion, the Bill ends the automatic halfway release for serious violent and sexual offenders, extends ‘positions of trust’ to sports coaches and faith leaders, and delivers increased protections for victims of domestic abuse. It was very disappointing that Labour MPs played politics and voted against this bill in parliament, but thankfully a large Conservative majority ensured it got through.
Councillor Duncan Crow, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Conservative Group
24th March 2021