Sarah Everard: Home Office Inquiry

Debate between Baroness Sanderson of Welton and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Tuesday 9th November 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I think the House agrees that trust and confidence in the police must be restored. We wish this inquiry to proceed at pace and to get to the nub of the various issues that it will look into. If the Home Secretary is not satisfied that a non-statutory inquiry is fulfilling those commitments, she can convert it to a statutory inquiry, but I must say that I think the whole House seeks the same end from this inquiry.

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, on a slightly separate, but related, matter, what are the implications of the Sarah Everard inquiry for the Daniel Morgan inquiry, which reported in June, described the Met as institutionally corrupt and found numerous failings? Some work has already begun but, given the potential for overlap here and the Morgan family’s long wait for justice, will the Government consider including the delivery of the panel’s recommendations in their cross-government task force?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My noble friend is absolutely right that there is inevitable overlap here. HMICFRS is already inspecting the Metropolitan Police Service in relation to vetting and countercorruption, at the Home Secretary’s request, and findings from this will feed into the broader inspection that she has asked HMICFRS to undertake across all forces. There is work ongoing in the Metropolitan Police Service and in the Home Office to respond to the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel recommendations, and the Home Secretary has already committed to provide an update in due course. Of course, any relevant evidence from this work can then be considered by part 2 of the independent inquiry, which will look more broadly at standards in policing.

Police: Body-worn Videos

Debate between Baroness Sanderson of Welton and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Wednesday 7th July 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I totally agree with the noble Lord that space between online circulation of video and the police reactively putting the video online creates a vacuum for speculation and can undermine the criminal justice process, so I think speed is of the essence. For that reason, I am very grateful to the noble Lord for asking the Question.

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, on a separate but related issue, in her HMIC report, Wendy Williams recommended that all forces should record the entirety of all stop and search encounters by September of this year and that external scrutiny panels should have access to that footage. As the use of stop and search has increased, public confidence in the process is more important than ever. Can my noble friend the Minister confirm whether police forces across the country intend to implement these recommendations?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I thank my noble friend for that question. As always, Wendy Williams’ report has come up with some very insightful recommendations. My noble friend will know that the use of body-worn video during stop and search is an operational decision for forces. The Home Office supports it as a tool for increasing transparency and accountability. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary reinforced that in her speech to the Police Federation conference early last month when she said that the Home Office would be

“looking carefully at strengthening the system of local community scrutiny and the value of body-worn video, because transparency”,

as the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, said, “is vital.”

Policing and Prevention of Violence against Women

Debate between Baroness Sanderson of Welton and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Tuesday 16th March 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con) [V]
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The noble Baroness will see some of the things that we have done in relation to perpetrator strategies and approaches, DAPOs, DAPNs and stalking protection orders. These are all measures to nip problems in the bud and prevent them from escalating into what could end up as full-on violence.

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, does my noble friend the Minister agree that one of the key things to make a difference to policing and the prevention of violence against women will be the Domestic Abuse Bill? It has been greatly improved by Members across this House, giving police clear new tools and challenging current norms of behaviour. Is it not now imperative that we get it on the statute book?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con) [V]
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My noble friend is absolutely right, and it has been a pleasure to work with her, given all her experience—of course, she was part of the team that was at the heart of that Bill’s inception. It is crucial that we get it on the statute book; she is absolutely right that we have all worked together to achieve it. It has been much improved and, as so many noble Lords have said, it is a landmark Bill.

Stop and Search

Debate between Baroness Sanderson of Welton and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Wednesday 3rd March 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I agree that we must police by consent. I also agree that someone should never be stopped on the basis of their race, and that the use of stop and search must be both reasonable and proportionate.

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, we were told that increasing the use of Section 60 powers was necessary to suppress levels of violence and knife crime, yet, according to this report, of all Section 60 searches in 2019-20, only 3.7% found a knife or a weapon. Meanwhile, disproportionality has increased, with black people 18.1 times more likely to be searched under Section 60 than white people. Given the damage that Section 60 searches can cause to community relations and in the light of the very low find rates, can my noble friend the Minister tell me whether there are any plans to review this policy?

Operation Midland

Debate between Baroness Sanderson of Welton and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Thursday 11th February 2021

(3 years, 4 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I do not undermine the suffering of Lady Brittan but, with regards to the individual to whom the noble Lord refers, a remedy was sought. That individual was convicted of perverting the course of justice, and now sits in prison.

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, I refer to my interests as set out in the register. There is little doubting the terrible damage done to all those targeted by Operation Midland, but I make the point that these false allegations also harm the real victims of child sexual abuse, of which there are many. How many convictions have there been to date for historical child sexual abuse?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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First, I totally agree with my noble friend about false allegations harming the actual victims, which has never been raised in your Lordships’ House before. On historic convictions for non-recent child sexual abuse allegations, since 2015 there have been almost 5,000. Those are the victims we should really be thinking about.

Covid-19: Domestic Abuse of Older People

Debate between Baroness Sanderson of Welton and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Tuesday 1st December 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The Domestic Abuse Bill in fact includes domestic abuse against anyone regardless of age or sex. The noble Baroness is absolutely right about considering the needs of older people. Even without the data, we know that people of all ages face domestic abuse within their homes. Therefore, on that basis, it is paramount that that support is available.

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, as the Minister pointed out last week, older people do not tend to fill in the self-completion module of the National Crime Survey, as it is done on a tablet. In agreeing to find a solution with the ONS, might the Government consider something as simple as a written questionnaire?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I think it might come to that, because there is definitely a problem when we have data for only a certain section of the population. Since my noble friend asked that last time, I have brought it back to the department. We need to find a way through for this problem, because we simply do not have the database from which to provide that support. We know it happens; we just do not know how many people it happens to.

LGBT Community: Domestic Abuse

Debate between Baroness Sanderson of Welton and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Tuesday 24th November 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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It is interesting that the noble Lord says that, because that is precisely the debate that we had yesterday. What some years ago might have been described as just a domestic is now being dealt with far more sensitively and properly by the police, including with the use of domestic abuse prevention orders, so that the moment that the victim—he or she, though it is usually a she—reports something to the police, it is immediately dealt with.

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, what are the Government doing to protect older LGBT people from domestic abuse? Will they consider collecting data on domestic abuse for all ages, not just those aged 74 and under?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My noble friend raises an important point, and raises the challenge of collecting that data, which is not present because older people are often less likely to engage with surveys done online. Additionally—it is a sad fact—some older people might be too frightened to admit abuse, particularly if it is from a younger person, and they may not even realise, because it has been going on for so long, that they are a victim of domestic abuse.

Child Trafficking

Debate between Baroness Sanderson of Welton and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Monday 16th November 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The noble Lord is absolutely right that crime is at the heart of this and that women play a big part in the lucrativeness of that crime. We have our modern slavery Bill, and the Home Secretary will be having further discussions with my noble friend Lord McColl on how we deal with victims of trafficking. This country has been a very safe refuge for people genuinely fleeing traffickers.

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, where does the backlog on NRM cases currently stand? How long does my noble friend estimate it will take to clear?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The single competent authority recently launched a recruitment campaign to bring in 371 new operational staff members. This will significantly reduce the decision-making period so that victims can be given certainty, which is absolutely right.

Domestic Abuse: Protection of Victims

Debate between Baroness Sanderson of Welton and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Tuesday 27th October 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I thank the right reverend Prelate for that point. The first thing to be clear about is the principle that all victims of domestic abuse must be treated as victims first and foremost, whether they are migrant victims or not. I do not have the numbers before me, but the pilot will make it clear how many people we are talking about and where some of the gaps in provision might be.

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, last summer, the Home Office began a review of the effectiveness of Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015, headed:

“Controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship.”


Can the Minister tell me when it will be published?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I thank my noble friend for that question. Coercive control is something that until relatively recently had not been identified as domestic abuse, but it is. Just because something does not involve hitting or physically hurting somebody else does not mean it is not as bad as other types of domestic abuse. I am pleased to be able to tell my noble friend that it remains our intention to publish this to inform the Lords stages of the Domestic Abuse Bill.

Domestic Abuse

Debate between Baroness Sanderson of Welton and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Wednesday 29th April 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I recognise the noble Lord’s point about children—they are at the brunt of abuse, or are witnesses to abuse. As I meant to say to the noble Baroness, Lady Burt, I am on a call every day with the Home Secretary and her operational partners, who are very alive to what might be going on behind closed doors. In the last four weeks, the NCA has developed and disseminated 1,060 child sexual abuse packages for police forces to investigate. Those figures are horrific, but it is testament to the good work of our police forces.

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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We have heard about the surge in calls to the domestic abuse helpline but we have not seen a corresponding rise in calls to the police. What are the Government doing to understand this discrepancy so that we can make sure that victims also feel able to contact the police should they need to do so?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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The noble Baroness is absolutely right. There is a mismatch between inquiries to the helpline and what police are reporting. But even among police forces there is quite a disparity; the Met are seeing far higher incidences than are other police forces. Again, on those operational calls, police are really vigilant on spotting the signs of domestic abuse. It is a priority activity for the Home Office at this time.

Domestic Abuse Bill

Debate between Baroness Sanderson of Welton and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Monday 9th March 2020

(4 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what funding has been allocated for a public information campaign to accompany the Domestic Abuse Bill.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, the Domestic Abuse Bill includes an all-purpose definition of domestic abuse to ensure that the nature of abuse is fully understood. It emphasises that it is not only physical or sexual violence, but includes controlling or coercive behaviour and economic abuse. As part of our plans for implementing the Bill, we are considering options for public awareness campaigns.

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend. While I welcome the reintroduction of the Domestic Abuse Bill, which will create a more effective approach to tackling domestic abuse, the problem will not go away simply because of legislation. One in four women in this country will suffer domestic abuse—one in four. Given that statistic, we may all know someone who is suffering behind closed doors, someone who is too ashamed, humiliated or frightened to come forward, even to their family or friends. I hope the Minister will agree that in order to break the silence, we really need to start a national conversation. The Government must play their role by raising awareness of this horrific crime and encouraging all of us to confront and challenge an issue that is still taboo in our society.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, I agree wholeheartedly with everything that my noble friend says. Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall made the same point in her speech to the Women of the World Festival just last Friday, when she said that

“laws alone cannot change behaviour … Domestic abuse is everyone’s problem and the solution must be too.”

In terms of the role that the Government can play, we certainly see the merits of a public information campaign and we are exploring options for it. However, my noble friend is absolutely right: we all have a part to play in confronting this if it is not to continue to be hidden away as it has been for so long.