Theresa May told the audience at the annual Women’s Aid conference, in her first speech on this issue, that violence against women would be a priority for the government and committed to:
- continuing, to the end of this financial year, the pilot scheme which helps victims of domestic violence who have no recourse to public funds because of their immigration status - and committed to finding a long-term solution to ensure victims are protected after that. The scheme provides support to victims in the UK on a spouse or partner visa who have been forced to flee the family home because of domestic violence
- reversing the decline in rape crisis centres by considering how to use the proceeds from the victim surcharge to deliver up to 15 new rape crisis centres, and give existing rape crisis centres stable, long-term funding
- responding in full to Baroness Stern’s independent review into the handling of rape complaints as part of the government’s work to tackle rape.
Statement from the Home Secretary
Home Secretary and minister for women and equalities Theresa May said: ‘As both Home Secretary and minister for women and equalities I believe I have a unique opportunity to bring about real change to the lives and the status of women in this country and my ambition is nothing less than ending violence against women and girls.
‘I am under no illusion though; this will take time and effort. In these tough economic times, while government has a clear role to play, it’s vital that we all work together and with a more considered, targeted and sensible approach I believe we will achieve real results.
‘Today I can confirm our commitment to continue funding the “no recourse to public funds” scheme and to more long-term, stable funding for rape crisis centres to support the many women who experience abuse. As well as this we will work towards providing real solutions to prevent violence against women from happening in the first place.’
Next week the Home Office will host a cross-government ministerial violence against women meeting to discuss a new approach to tackling this issue.
Notes to editors
A Home Office pilot project for victims of domestic violence with no recourse to public funds, run by Eaves Housing for Women Ltd, commenced in November 2009 and was scheduled to run to the end of August 2010. An extension to the pilot will run until the end of March 2011 and the government has committed to find a long-term funding solution to the issue following this. The pilot is monitored on a monthly basis and a full evaluation will take place on completion of the pilot.
Support has been provided to 251 women between the start of the pilot in November 2009 and 15 July 2010.
It is government policy that, whenever possible, offenders should contribute to victims’ services as part of their reparation. The victims surcharge raises money to support victims of crime and witnesses from offenders whose sentence is, or includes, a fine. They must pay a mandatory flat-rate victim surcharge of £15, regardless of the size of the fine.
The government’s coalition programme includes the following commitments:
- we will consider how to use proceeds from the victim surcharge to deliver up to 15 new rape crisis centres, and give existing rape crisis centres stable, long-term funding.
More details can be found on the Programme for Government website.
For more information call the Home Office press office on 020 7035 3535.