Policing minister Kit Malthouse has faced backlash after stating that it would be up to individual areas to create their own strategies around tackling violence against women and girls.
Malthouse told BBC Radio 4 that the serious violence duty outlined in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is “very widely drawn”, specifically to allow local areas to design their own strategies around the violence that particularly affects them.
He said that if there are areas that “particularly want” to focus on violence against women and girls and “feel they have a systemic problem” then the “duty allows them to do that”.
The serious violence duty will mean that local authorities, police and other public bodies will have a legal duty to share data and intelligence in cases concerning serious violence.
Host Mishal Husain interjected and asked why violence against women and girls isn’t being prioritised everywhere in the same way the Prevent strategy against terrorism is.
He said that the government published a violence against women and girls strategy during the summer and said there is a “suite of things happening out there in the public realm”, including topping up the Safe Streets fund and appointing a new police chief to spearhead the fight against violence towards women and girls.
Speaking earlier in the show, shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding Jess Phillips said that the government is “resisting” prioritising violence against women and girls in the same way other serious crimes such as knife crime, terrorism, and county lines are prioritised.
She said she wants to see violence against women and girls prioritised not just by the Metropolitan Police, but in every police force in the UK, as well as the Whitehall offices.
The Labour MP said: “For a start-off, the government are currently resisting in the bill on policing and sentencing making violence against women and girls a serious crime which would mean that it would get a cross-departmental [approach] in a local area and it would get a prevention plan that would have to to be worked on around those offenders like we have for knife crime, like we have for terrorism,” she said.
“I don’t want to hear about pieces of paper and strategies written, I want to see action where this actually changes.
She added: “If I was Sarah Everard that night I’d have got in the car, and almost anybody would have got in the car, and I know my rights better than most people and so the suggestion that somehow we have to change our behaviour once again is, I have to say, a bit tiring.”
People took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the Radio 4 discussion, with LabourList editor Sienna Rodgers saying Malthouse’s remarks show “no sense of urgency”.
Kit Malthouse, minister on #R4: “If there are areas that particularly want to focus on violence against women and g… https://t.co/1uUrl26KvA
Malthouse added: “I don’t think anyone can pretend that this case hasn’t dealt a devastating blow to people’s confidence in police and particularly to female confidence in the police.
“The fact that this monster used the cloak of being a police officer to perpetrate his crime is a dreadful, dreadful event and I think, as the commissioner said yesterday, one of the worst in the 192-year history of the Metropolitan police.”
Malthouse also appeared on Sky News this morning to defend Met Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick amid calls for her resignation.
Crime and Policing Minister Kit Malthouse defends Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, saying she p… https://t.co/15rp0jYh1O