Keir Starmer has vowed to make it his “personal mission” to stand up for victims of domestic violence after a collapse in the number of charges brought against the crime.
The Labor leader said that, as Director of Public Prosecutions, he had witnessed “the devastating impact that domestic violence has on victims and their families” and how the abuse often escalates into other forms of serious violence.
Speaking at a conference held by the charity Women’s Aid, Starmer pledged to use her own experience to crack down on crime and said the Labor Party would create a domestic violence register for perpetrators convicted of serial domestic abuse and stalking.
He also pledged that the party would end the “postcode lottery” faced by victims by placing rape and domestic violence specialists in all police forces in England and Wales, and installing domestic violence specialists in 999 control rooms. at peak times.
The Labor Party has also promised stiffer sentences for rape, stalking and domestic murder, including a seven-year minimum sentence for rape and life imprisonment rates for rape, kidnapping and murder, as well as rapid tracing for rape cases.
Reports of domestic abuse have increased rapidly over the last decade and are up nearly 120% from 2015 numbers.
Crime figures from the Office for National Statistics show that more than 915,000 cases were reported in the year ending September 2022, a significant increase from the 421,185 reported between April 2015 and March 2016. Despite the increase, the number of people accused of domestic violence has dropped by nearly half since 2015 and the number of victims dropping cases has risen.
“When cases go to trial, they are delayed for years due to court delays,” Starmer said. “I’ve seen firsthand the cost victims incur in waiting for justice; it is not only unfair and unfair, it is harmful. This government is completely lacking in action, millions are paying the price, it frustrates me and I want to fix it.”
The Labor leader highlighted the action he has taken to address violence against women and girls as a DPP, including his support for the introduction of Jane’s Law in 2012. The law, which allows the Crown Prosecution Service to appeal defendants’ bail, was supported by Starmer in response to the murder of Jane Clough, an A&E nurse, who was stabbed 71 times by her violent ex-partner while awaiting trial for her 2010 rape.
Starmer said he would always have “deep respect” for his parents, John and Penny, who campaigned for change.
“Jane, her daughter, her parents and everyone who knew her were terribly disappointed in the system. Addressing violence against women and girls is deeply personal to me,” said Starmer.
“That is why safer streets will be one of the main missions of my Labor government. It is completely intolerable that 97% of victims of sexual abuse have never seen a charge against their abuser in the past year. I was so shocked when I heard about the figure that I had my team check it out. Unfortunately it’s true.”
On Tuesday, the Labor leader shared the stage with Victoria Derbyshire and former Spice Girl Melanie Brown – who has spoken out about abuse in her marriage – at a conference hosted by Women’s Aid.
Starmer said it was “unforgivable” that fewer offenders were being prosecuted and convicted of their crimes.
“Our criminal justice system has broken down and no longer serves the victims it is supposed to protect,” he said. “With my Labor government, victims will be put back at the heart of our system so they don’t have to wait years for justice and are better supported by the police and authorities when they courageously report their abuser.”