A campaign by Stratford mum Elizabeth Adams to change the law on sexual and domestic violence has taken a big step forward after the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow backed her motion as national party policy.
County and West Midlands Lib Dem Euro MP Phil Bennion, who seconded Elizabeth's motion to help make sure it was put on the agenda, congratulated her for her success.
Phil Bennion MEP said: "Domestic violence is still a problem society is not facing up to. It is clear that both the law and generally accepted boundaries of behaviour need to change. Violence and injury in the home is just as unacceptable as anywhere else.
"Elizabeth Adams deserves to be congratulated. She has worked very hard to win support from charities and support organisations over nine months and this was reflected in the big majority her motion won from delegates at the conference last week.
"Liberal Democrat ministers will now seek to take forward this policy within the coalition government.
"One way the European Union can help in dealing with social problems like sexual and domestic violence is to compare different approaches and share best practice across all EU countries.
"Around the West Midlands region, several ongoing projects funded by the DAPHNE programme are helping local charities and agencies in this work.
"We need to learn the lessons on how best to help victims recover and what measures are proven to reform the perpetrators.
Elizabeth Adams commented, “Domestic abuse remains misunderstood, under-reported and it affects millions of people across Britain – and many thousands here in Warwickshire. It is time the government improved the way it works to help prevent abuse and detect cases much earlier.
“At a time when money is still tight, it makes economic sense to invest in preventing a problem that currently costs the UK billions; not to mention the social and emotional cost to society.
"The policy I put forward delivers a clear set of proposals for how Liberal Democrats in government can work to prevent abuse and give better protection to victims.”
Elizabeth criticised Conservative plans that could result in closures and loss of vital services for local children’s centres in Warwickshire.
She added, “Children’s centres and organisations that work from them, give support to vulnerable families and are often the first port of call for those affected by abuse. Plans supported by the Conservatives on the County Council could put these centres at risk.”
Caption: Elizabeth Adams also won the backing of the Lib Dems' West Midlands Regional Congress for her motion on Domestic Violence, which last week was adopted by the party nationally as policy.
Notes: Key Points of the motion as passed by the Lib Dem conference in Glasgow.
1) better focus on prevention through the education and healthcare systems including compulsory relationship and consent education and integration if abuse awareness across subjects.
2) government campaign to business and employers highlighting how they can work to support employees and reduce economic cost of abuse to businesses.
3) Further progress in the justice system including holding PCCs accountable for improving police response to and prevention of domestic violence
Elizabeth Adams, the author of the motion, is a Liberal Democrat campaigner for Stratford-Upon-Avon and campaigns nationally on tackling domestic violence.
The motion was passed, with the addition of Amendment One (see texts below).
DAPHNE programme projects in Warwickshire and the West Midlands:
In 2010 €2,789,580.96 in EU grant funding was secured for West Midlands Lead Partners for a new round of DAPHNE programme projects now ongoing. Partners involved in winning bids included: Newman University College, University of Wolverhampton, Coventry University, Keele University, Telford & Wrekin Council, The Haven (Wolverhampton) and Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Partnership.
Successful long term projects approved for DAPHNE funding included:
· 'STREETWISE' European street violence project - Newman University College - fighting street and peer violence which is identified as an issue in Birmingham. Work with 6 partner organisations across the EU - in part analysis & research to make street- based youth work more effective in preventing and combating street violence by working with young people. Peer research, training, DVDs documenting the research process and young people's experience.
· CAVA: Changing Attitudes to dating Violence among adolescents - Coventry University Objective - an innovative approach to changing attitudes to violence and abuse in dating relationships among 12 to 16-year-olds. Use of a role playing video game as central learning tool, with scenarios of different stages of a relationship and role play of situations that sometimes lead to violence.
· 'Women rough sleepers' - University of Wolverhampton - a study dealing with women who have suffered abuse and the development of policy strategy & knowledge transfer (sharing best practice) activities to support rough sleepers and help them into accommodation. Research to create an EU network to support organisations dealing with vulnerable women sleeping rough.
· COMBAT - Combining Against Trafficking - Coventry, Solihull & Warwickshire Partnership. Aim - to raise awareness of trafficking at front-line/ grass roots level. Contributing to protection and safeguarding of vulnerable & at risk women and children. Training events in partner countries, leaflets, a film will be made on the reality of child trafficking. Resources also used to train professionals to be aware of the problem and how to fight it.
Counselling Survivors - The Haven (Wolverhampton), A comparative study on counselling support approaches with victims of violence and how they are funded in the West Midlands with partners in Portugal, Germany, Italy and Bulgaria.
Text of motion as debated:
F30 Preventing and Tackling Sexual and Domestic Violence
Liberal Youth, Women Liberal Democrats, West Midlands Liberal Democrats, Stratford-upon-Avon and 29 conference representatives.
Mover: Tessa Munt MP
Summation: Elizabeth Adams
Conference notes with concern:
I. Last year in the UK, around 1.2 million women and 800,000 men suffered domestic abuse and over
400,000 women were sexually assaulted.
II. There is still significant lack of understanding over what counts as domestic violence, especially amongst young people.
III. Domestic and sexual violence has estimated annual costs of £40.1 billion per year and CAADV
(Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence) states it currently costs UK businesses over £1.9 billion a year.
Conference asserts the Liberal Democrat beliefs that:
A. Domestic and sexual violence are a violation of basic human rights and need collective action by
government, including Education and Health.
B. Violence against women and girls and stigmatisation of male victims is inextricably linked to continued gender inequality.
C. The huge financial cost to society of domestic violence warrants investment in prevention and services to support victims.
Conference commends the Coalition Government’s launch of the cross-departmental action plan ‘Call to
End Violence Against Women and Girls’ as a crucial part of delivering a fairer society and note existing
i) Changing the definition of domestic violence to include ‘coercive control’ and incidents concerning 16 and 17 year olds.
ii) The 'This is ABUSE' campaign to raise awareness amongst young people.
Conference calls for:
1. Stronger focus on prevention of domestic and sexual violence, by:
a) Renewed commitment to relationships and consent becoming a compulsory part of sex education
in schools, with assurance that schools are provided with support to deliver this through properly
trained staff and a system that doesn’t infringe on the existing rights of parents.
b) Domestic and sexual abuse, harassment, keeping safe online and gender inequality becoming
integral topics to be covered by all students across the curriculum.
c) Updated information and training on identifying and supporting abuse victims for all healthcare
professionals, including those working with dental patients, pregnant women and victims of substance abuse.
d) Training and new procedures for GPs to deal with domestic abuse perpetrators.
2. Further improvement to support for victims of domestic and sexual violence by:
a) Establishing lead departments in local authorities to co-ordinate continued training for and
improved data collection by all professions dealing with abuse victims.
b) Running ‘Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programmes’ in place of anger management for all
types of court cases involving domestic violence (DVPPs are community based behaviour-change
programmes and the most appropriate type of help for those who are abusive or violent to their partners).
c) Making ‘progress made on preventing and prosecuting domestic violence’ one of the key
performance indicators for Police and Crime Commissioners and covering this area in PCC annual reporting.
3. Minimising any adverse impacts of government spending restraints by:
a) Promoting the business case for ending violence against women to companies and employers by
launching a government campaign for women’s safety and the workplace.
b) Working with local authorities to identify and deliver strategically improved allocation of ringfenced funds,
ensuring the ability to provide high quality services for victims by properly trained professionals is maintained.
Amendment One (passed):
After ii) (line 21), insert:
iii) The development of multi-agency guidelines for practitioners to assist in preventing further
incidents of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and ensure that victims and potential victims receive appropriate support.
iv) The work by Lynne Featherstone in highlighting the issue of FGM in the UK and the £35mn the
Coalition Government has agreed to spend on helped communities to eliminate the practice.
v) UK government’s signature in June 2012 to the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and
Combating Violence against women and girls and domestic violence - Istanbul Convention 2011 (CETS No 210).
After 1. d) (line 32), insert:
e) Working with Communities in the UK where FGM is seen as an acceptable cultural practice
and prosecuting those responsible for cases where girls are sent abroad to have FGM carried
out or where it is carried out in the UK.