(1 year, 1 month ago)Read Full debate
I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising this. We are, of course, pleased that more victims are trusting the system and coming forward to report abuse. I am obviously very sorry to hear of the terrible case in his constituency. Interestingly, from the bulletin, we know that 77% of all referrals made to the CPS by his local constabulary have resulted in charges, which is higher than the national average, and 80% of all such prosecutions resulted in a conviction, which is again higher than the national average. But, of course, part of the purpose of the draft domestic violence and abuse Bill and the package of non-legislative measures is to ensure that everyone, both inside and outside the criminal justice system, knows what domestic abuse is and how we should tackle it.
(1 year, 6 months ago)Read Full debate
It is a team of respected academics in the field, and it would not be right for me as a Minister to point them in the direction of their research. I am sure they will be looking at the example the hon. Gentleman mentions, as they will look at other examples across Europe. It is something I can look at, too.
Before I descend into the details, I add that I am pleased that colleagues have talked about the role that education has in tackling demand. Colleagues will know that I spend a lot of time talking about that when it comes to how some crimes are perpetuated against women and girls. Relationships education is absolutely key. The hon. Member for Rotherham mentioned the Secretary of State for Education. My understanding is that while some schools will be in a position to provide this education very quickly because they have the teachers and skill sets available, other schools are not quite at that place. We are trying to help them get to that place so that the policy is consistent and high-quality across the country.
The acts of buying and selling sex are not in themselves illegal in England and Wales, but many activities that can be associated with prostitution are offences, and we have heard about them today. When those offences were designed, the basis of them was to protect vulnerable people involved in prostitution. They relate to activities such as controlling prostitution and buying sex from someone who has been a victim of trafficking. We are aware of the different legislative approaches taken elsewhere, including the Nordic model and the regulated decriminalised approach in Germany and the Netherlands. We are seeking unequivocal evidence as to whether any one approach is better than others at tackling harm and exploitation. That must remain our priority.
That is a perfectly fair and proper question. It is a question that I will have to answer when we have the independent research, which we will be able to analyse the results of. I understand why colleagues are anxious to act immediately, but I have to act on the basis of academic research and evidence.