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Statement following Yvette Cooper’s speech at Labour Party conference

24th September 2014

Statement from Vera Baird, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner following Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper’s speech at the Labour Party Conference:

“As an author of Labour’s Women’s Safety Commission Report, which is being published next month, I’m delighted to hear Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper announce to conference a national commitment to a network of domestic violence refuges, even before we publish our document which she has been closely involved with.

“She knows from our emerging findings that refuges are cutting services or closing altogether. Shockingly Women’s Aid estimates that 27,900 women in need of refuge accommodation were turned away and over 7,000 women turned away from non-refuge services in 2012 and the situation is worsening. This is clear proof that action needs to be taken. A number of refuge services are funding themselves from reserves – this cannot continue and I’m pleased Yvette will make change happen. The refuge sector has suffered appallingly under this government.

“Of high importance is that the Shadow Home Secretary is announcing national funding for refuges and they will not continue to be subject to the ups and downs of local government funding as they are now at a time of massive local authority cuts. My local Councillor colleagues have the political will to fund resources to stop domestic abuse but have been starved of the means.

“It is important too that there is a national system of refuges so that victims who have to flee can be helped to move right away from their local area if necessary, to get away from a violent partner. It is also crucial that a national system will have a national quality standard regime so that expertise from specialists can be guaranteed for every victim.

“The refuges that have suffered worst under this government are those which support BAME victims who will not seek help if they cannot find culturally sympathetic refuge workers to confide in. When Yvette is Home Secretary, the days of poor VAWG services, varying wildly from place to place, are set to start coming to an end.”