Baroness Donaghy debates involving the Home Office during the 2019 Parliament

Tue 5th Jan 2021
Domestic Abuse Bill
Lords Chamber

2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading
Wed 29th Jul 2020

Hate Crimes: Misogyny

Baroness Donaghy Excerpts
Monday 6th December 2021

(1 month, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Asked by
Baroness Donaghy Portrait Baroness Donaghy
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to make misogyny a hate crime.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, the Government are committed to tackling violence against women and girls. We have asked the Law Commission to undertake a review of hate crime legislation, including whether additional protective characteristics such as sex and gender should be included. The Law Commission is due to publish its recommendations imminently and it is important that we hear what the commission proposes before deciding on a position on this matter.

Baroness Donaghy Portrait Baroness Donaghy (Lab)
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I am still haunted by the thought of the last few hours of Sarah Everard—how her life changed in an instant and how terrified she must have been. It could have been any young woman, because the murdering misogynist who is now serving time had prepared to pick any young woman. There are online groups that objectify and dehumanise women and girls and they radicalise young men, who go on to commit acts of aggression designed to intimidate, humiliate and control women. When will the Minister act on making misogyny a hate crime to counteract the widespread misogynist culture in the police and elsewhere and the shameful drop in rape convictions?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, what the noble Baroness has outlined goes far beyond misogyny, although I totally appreciate her question, in that quite often it starts with misogyny. On rape convictions, which I heard her mention right at the end, she will know that a rape review has been carried out, the intention of which is to improve the response right through the criminal justice system.

White Ribbon Campaign

Baroness Donaghy Excerpts
Thursday 25th November 2021

(1 month, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I am very grateful to answer that question. The Home Office has made a number of interventions. We have provided £300 million for victim and witness support services this year, an increase from around £200 million last year. The noble Baroness will know that, as part of the spending review, the Ministry of Justice has announced £185 million a year by 2024-25 to boost victim support services, and this will fund more than 1,000 independent sexual and domestic violence advisers and 24-hours-a-day crisis helplines. She will also know that we plan to run a communications campaign in support of the white ribbon aims. She gets to the heart of the problem: unless men own the problem, it will never end.

Baroness Donaghy Portrait Baroness Donaghy (Lab)
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The Crime Survey for England and Wales undercounts violence against women and girls; it measures households but not institutions. Three of the most striking findings by the Femicide Census in the last decade on the killing of young women are the repetition of fatal errors by the authorities, the inadequate collection of data, such as on ethnicity, and the impact of campaigning mothers and fathers mourning their daughters and trying to improve the system. Will the Minister recommend the collection of data on the killing of women to be gathered in an accessible and central repository? Will she empower the domestic abuse and victims’ commissioners to ensure that recommendations to tackle femicide are implemented?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The collection of data is obviously crucial. It is something we talked about a lot during the passage of the Domestic Abuse Act. I go back to the original point that the noble Baroness makes about repeated offending. One of the things we have tried to do through the Act is to stop the cycle of offending through DAPOs and other interventions and, returning to the original point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, to make men own the problem of repeated violence against women.

EU Settlement Scheme

Baroness Donaghy Excerpts
Thursday 1st July 2021

(6 months, 3 weeks ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I thank the noble Earl for that question. To update him, Home Office officials recently met the3million to discuss those proposals in more detail. The use of QR codes is something that we will consider. There will of course be a number of issues to work through to assess the feasibility of the solution, including that end users’ data is absolutely secure.

Baroness Donaghy Portrait Baroness Donaghy (Lab)
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My Lords, the Minister will agree that online support, telephone helplines and grant-funded organisations have done a tremendous job so far. What help will be available to those who have missed the deadline? How do we ensure, as the Minister hopes, that we do not have another Windrush scandal? Many do not trust the state or politicians, and many will not believe that the new rules apply to them because they have been here for decades. How will the Minister’s statement that the scheme will be open indefinitely be manifested?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I think what the noble Baroness asks is: beyond the deadline, what support will be available? The Settlement Resolution Centre will certainly be open after the deadline, and the grant-funded organisations will be funded into June. On her point about our intention up to September, we will scope out what the needs will be beyond September, because we do not want a hard stop preventing anyone who can apply to the scheme from doing so.

Domestic Abuse Bill

Baroness Donaghy Excerpts
2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading
Tuesday 5th January 2021

(1 year ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Donaghy Portrait Baroness Donaghy (Lab) [V]
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The noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham, mentioned that, nearly 50 years ago, the first women’s refuge was opened in Chiswick. I lived there, and I remember it well: it hit the headlines, and not all that many were positive. I had hoped that things would improve—at least it is not called “wife battering” any more—but if you took the sum total of human misery caused by domestic violence and turned it into an energy source, it would hold back oceans.

In my brief time I will focus on domestic violence as a workplace issue, local authority funding and the need for a co-ordinated, community-based response. As a former president of the TUC, I recognise that domestic violence can spill over into the workplace, and my former union, UNISON, is asking the Government to extend the remit of domestic abuse protection orders to include workplaces on the face of the Bill. Under the current wording, emphasis is placed on restrictions to the victim’s accommodation, and the Government have said that they would expect a DAPO to include such restrictions if the court considered it necessary. This is not strong enough.

UNISON welcomes the government review into support in the workplace for survivors of domestic abuse. It is calling for guidance to employers, including on paid leave, so that victims will have the time and space to sort out their lives, whether it is to receive medical treatment, find safe accommodation, or attend court or police dates. What progress have the Government made with their review? Will they extend domestic abuse protection orders explicitly to include the workplace on the face of the Bill?

While the Local Government Association has welcomed the Bill, it is concerned about co-ordination, adequate funding and sustainability. The spending review has already been mentioned. It announced £125 million of funding to help local authorities to deliver the proposed new duty to support domestic abuse victims and their children in safe accommodation. Some experts have estimated that the cost would be nearer £400 million. How has this figure been calculated and will it meet the full costs of the new proposed duties? In addition, transitional funding is needed to provide for existing support services due to close at the end of the financial year.

We need a cross-government response, including health, housing and education, and an equal focus on funding for prevention and wider community-based support. The LGA is not the only organisation which is concerned that the emphasis on local authorities finding accommodation will distort the overall strategy. The list of all the organisations is too long to mention, but it includes the domestic abuse commissioner herself, and they are all calling for an amendment to the Bill which would widen the new statutory duty for accommodation-based services to cover community-based services as well. I hope that the Government will consider sympathetically that addition and accept an amendment to the Bill.

Hate Crime: Misogyny

Baroness Donaghy Excerpts
Monday 23rd November 2020

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Asked by
Baroness Donaghy Portrait Baroness Donaghy
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to make misogyny a hate crime.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, any hate crime is completely unacceptable. The Government are committed to stamping them out. We have asked the Law Commission to conduct a wide-ranging review into hate crime to explore how to make current legislation more effective and whether additional protected characteristics should be added. It will report next year and we will respond to the review in full when it is complete.

Baroness Donaghy Portrait Baroness Donaghy (Lab)
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The Home Office has the opportunity today to state clearly that unintended or apparent bullying is still bullying. A woman has been murdered every three days for the last 10 years, 62% of them by partners or former partners, yet there is no co-ordination among the authorities to build an accurate pattern of abuse. Making misogyny a hate crime will go some way to addressing this scandal in our society, but when, Minister, when?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The noble Baroness will know, because I have said it here before, that the Law Commission will report on its findings next year. She will also understand that equality of protection is a crucial element of ensuring public support for hate crime legislation.

Lightweight Polyethylene Chest Plates

Baroness Donaghy Excerpts
Wednesday 30th September 2020

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Asked by
Baroness Donaghy Portrait Baroness Donaghy
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) whether current safety testing standards for lightweight polyethylene chest plates are fit for purpose, and (2) concerns expressed by experts about the safety of such chest plates.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, body armour certified by the Ministry of Defence and Home Office is rigorously assessed using internationally recognised test standards for the relevant roles and threat levels. The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory is aware of no scientific evidence that body armour is unsafe when used as advised. Recent claims based on unscientific tests cannot be corroborated by government scientific advisers.

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Baroness Donaghy Portrait Baroness Donaghy (Lab) [V]
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One serving SAS soldier said:

“I’d sooner go into battle wearing no ballistic protection than using this plate. It shouldn’t have been brought into service”.


Ballistics experts, defence manufacturers, an NHS trauma consultant, the Police Federation and Police Firearms Officers Association have called for an urgent investigation into safety standards that might have applied in the 1980s but need updating. When will the Minister commission such an urgent investigation?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, the current deformation in clay standard for police equipment is 25 millimetres, which is far more stringent than international standards. The deformation in clay standard for MoD equipment is 44 millimetres. The testing meets those criteria.

Domestic Abuse

Baroness Donaghy Excerpts
Wednesday 29th July 2020

(1 year, 5 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I sympathise wholeheartedly with the noble Baroness’s point. I have looked into this, because I was slightly perplexed myself as to why the data was not forthcoming. I spoke to Minister Atkins, who said that the issue behind it was the low level of response, making the data not statistically significant. However, the noble Baroness can be hopeful; Professor Diamond has confirmed that the ONS’s Centre for Crime and Justice will test whether it is possible to include them at some future date.

Baroness Donaghy Portrait Baroness Donaghy (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I used to think that ending up as a statistic was the worst possible fate. Now I realise that not being worth counting is even worse. I congratulate Age UK on its campaign to include the collection of data on those over 74 in the Crime Survey for England and Wales, and to end this discrimination. It cannot be put in the “too difficult” tray. If this is not within the Minister’s influence, will she please advise us where the obstacle is? A low response rate is rather self-defeating.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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Well, it is not that the over-74s are not worth counting, nor that it is in the “too difficult” box. The noble Baroness will appreciate that for data to be robust you have to collect enough of it to make what comes out of it statistically significant. I understand that that is where the sticking point is—but Professor Diamond has committed to looking at it again, which is very encouraging.