The Home Office has been accused of breaking a promise made after the murder of Sarah Everard to elevate violence against women and girls to the same status as terrorism.
Police forces are yet to make a cluster of misogynistic crimes such as rape, harassment and upskirting a top priority due to a failed release of a proposed government directive, a said the Labor Party.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said the government department was breaking a specific promise made in March to introduce new priorities to protect women and girls.
“This is a shameful failure by the Conservatives to deliver on the basic promise they made almost a year ago. Their complete lack of action or urgency fails women and girls,” Cooper said.
“Labour has been pushing for violence against women and girls to be a police priority for months. That the Conservatives promised but did not keep their promise is unforgivable and shows how weak and unreliable they are.
Former Home Secretary Priti Patel said in March that violence against women and girls would become a strategic police requirement, a national initiative that sets out the resources police forces must deploy to respond effectively to specific crimes.
The engagement was to implement one of the recommendations of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Police and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) in a report on violence against women and girls – commissioned as part of the response to Everard’s murder in March 2021 by an on-duty police officer.
The HMICFRS report notes that other women have recently been victims of male violence, including Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, Gracie Spinks and Julia James.
In November 2021, The Times reported that violence against women and girls would be added to the strategic policing requirement.
“It is an acknowledgment by ministers that there is an epidemic of violence against women which must be one of the most pressing national priorities in tackling crime,” the newspaper said.
Patel said adding violence against women and girls to the strategic requirement for policing puts it on the same strategic footing as terrorism, serious organized crime and child sexual abuse.
“By accepting all the recommendations of the HMICFRS report that I commissioned last year, the government and the police are stepping up their efforts to support victims and survivors and punish the perpetrators,” she said.
But nine months on, Labor says the police force has received no official notification of the long-awaited Strategic Policing (SPR) requirement.
The government’s description of the strategic policing requirement states: “Police commissioners, crime commissioners and chief constables are required to take into account the RPS in carrying out their respective roles. . In practice, this means that the problems listed in the requirement must be considered threats by the police force.
The failure of police to prioritize violent crimes such as rape and domestic violence is failing women and girls across the country, Cooper said.
A damning official review of how law enforcement is tackling rape, released in December, revealed persistent flaws in the criminal justice system, including failure to track repeat suspects, “explicit blaming of the victim” and the botched investigations.
Many forces in England and Wales still lack rape and serious sexual offense units, prosecutions have dropped and the quality of training officers receive is inconsistent.
Recorded rapes and sexual offenses hit record highs last year. Official crime figures show nearly 200 rapes were reported to police every day last year, but only 1.5% of rapes were charged.
The figures also show an increase in the proportion of rape victims who drop out of the criminal justice process. More than 40% of rape victims gave up last year, double the proportion in 2015.
New domestic violence figures also show that no arrests were made in two-thirds of domestic violence cases last year.
A Home Office spokesman said the government was committed to tackling violence against women and girls by prioritizing prevention, supporting survivors and strengthening prosecution authors.
“We have already made significant progress on the recommendations of the police inspection, including announcing that violence against women and girls will be presented as a national threat to which the forces must respond, alongside other threats such as terrorism, serious and organized crime and child sexual abuse. is part of the strategic policing needs,” she said.