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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Rachael Burford

Violence against women and girls 'will be treated as national emergency' under Labour

Violence against women will be treated as a “national emergency” if Labour wins power at the general election, the shadow home secretary vowed on Thursday.

Yvette Cooper has pledged an overhaul of the way violent crimes against women and girls are policed and said officers will be told to “relentlessly pursue dangerous perpetrators”.

“Week after week we see stories of women being killed, appalling failings by organisations charged with keeping them safe and weak assurances that ‘lessons will be learned,” Ms Cooper said.

“Yet nothing is changing and families across the country are being utterly devastated as a result.

“For far too long governments have treated violence against women and girls as an inevitability instead of the national emergency that it is.”

Ms Cooper referenced the murders of Sarah Everard, who was kidnapped and killed by a serving Met Police officer in 2021, and Raneem Oudeh and her mother who were stabbed to death by Ms Oudeh’s estranged husband in 2018.

Multiple failures by West Midlands Police officers “materially contributed” to the killings of Ms Oudeh and her mother, Khaola Saleem, an inquest found, raising questions about the way complaints of domestic violence were handled by the force.

Protests took place in London in the aftermath of Ms Everard’s killing, which prompted a vast vetting and review process of the Met’s nearly 45,000 officers and staff.

Last year some 1,600 of the force’s employees were under investigation for alleged violence against women or sexual abuse.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “It is simply not right that in 2024 women and girls across our country still routinely live in fear for their own safety.

“I’ve prioritised funding and initiatives to tackle violence against women and girls in London.”

Under the proposed “Raneem’s Law” police forces will be forced to provide more protection for victims of domestic abuse.

Labour’s package of new measures includes placing domestic abuse specialists in 999 control rooms to spot warning signs when emergency calls come in and violence against women training for every police officer in the country.

There will also be “enhanced support for victims” going through the criminal justice process and the introduction of a scheme that offers free legal advice to rape survivors.

Ms Cooper added: “We are sick and tired of women and girls facing the same threats of violence and abuse, generation after generation. Enough is enough.”

Combating violence against women and girls lies at the heart of the Standard’s Show Some Respect campaign, which is funding workshops about healthy relationships in schools, starting with £500,000 from the Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund.

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