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What it does include

The Labour Party Manifesto contains a chapter on ‘Taking back our streets’, which dedicates a specific section to addressing violence against women and girls (VAWG). It describes Labour’s mission to ‘halve violence against women and girls in a decade’ - although how this will be measured is unclear. Their specific plans when it comes to VAWG are:

  • Implementing specialist rape and sexual offences teams in every police force, plus domestic abuse experts in 999 control rooms. Labour also plan to install legal advocates for domestic abuse survivors in every police force, to advise victims from the point of reporting through to trial
  • Fast tracking rape cases, with specialist courts in every Crown Court in England and Wales
  • Ensuring that schools address misogyny, by teaching young people about healthy relationships and consent
  • Strengthening Stalking Protection Orders and giving women the right to know the identity of online stalkers
  • Introducing a new criminal offence for spiking
  • Strengthening protections available to women in cohabiting couples, and whistleblowers on sexual harassment in the workplace - although specific protections are not described.

Also in this chapter is Labour's plan for ‘better policing’, which includes mandatory professional standards on vetting, checks and misconduct for police officers, plus stronger training on VAWG. Labour also plan to bar from service anyone with a history of VAWG, and implement automatic suspension for officers investigated for domestic abuse and sexual offences. Their ‘Solving crime’ section mentions plans to make it easier for ‘high-performing’ police forces to charge domestic abuse suspects, although this isn’t described in detail.

Labour say they will develop a ‘justice system that puts victims first’. Their plans for this include addressing the criminal court backlog by allowing Associate Prosecutors to work on appropriate cases. Reducing the time that victims spend waiting for trials is key for survivors of VAWG, but court professionals must receive adequate training when it comes to domestic abuse, rape, and sexual violence, which isn't mentioned. Labour do plan to review sentencing, giving specific mention to the currently often insufficient sentencing for perpetrators of VAWG.

The Labour Party Manifesto also mentions VAWG at other points. Their plans to ‘Kickstart Economic Growth’ includes the use of AI models, whilst implementing regulations for AI companies and banning the creation of sexually explicit deep fakes - an area of real concern when it comes to protecting women from harm online. This section also lays out plans to build 1.5 million homes, and provide the ‘biggest increase in social and affordable housing in a generation’ - lack of housing is a key issue when it comes to providing onward accommodation for women in refuges, although this isn’t specifically mentioned by Labour.

Labour’s plans for ‘Action on public health’ includes protecting children and young people from harm online, and the manifesto specifically acknowledges that extreme misogynistic content is a key driver of VAWG. Labour say they will build on the Online Safety Act and ‘explore further measures’ to keep people safe online, but no detail is given here.

When it comes to foreign policy, Labour list ‘empowering women and girls’ as one of their ‘priority areas’ for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, but don’t give any detail on specific plans for addressing VAWG on an international level.

What's missing?

Whilst Labour do specifically address a number of the issues in our priorities for a new government, there is no mention of increasing or protecting funding for specialist ‘by and for’ domestic abuse support services, which must be prioritised if support for survivors is really going to improve.

Labour's plans for the NHS and social care places a lot of emphasis on moving service delivery into local communities, including by trialling Neighbourhood Health Centres. Ensuring that health and care professionals working at these centres are sufficiently trained on domestic abuse will be vital, and doing so could provide a real opportunity to help survivors access support - but no specific domestic abuse or VAWG training is mentioned by Labour here.

As well as this, Labour’s ‘Home First’ approach to social care must acknowledge that for survivors of domestic abuse, home is not the safest place to be. Labour also mention plans to recruit 8500 new mental health staff, but there isn’t a mention of specialist trauma-informed counselling.

Labour do describe plans to address issues in the criminal courts, there are no plans laid out to address the treatment of domestic abuse survivors in the family court systems, as called for in our priorities, and regularly raised by members of our Survivors’ Network. Whilst their manifesto does include plans to better hold perpetrators to account, plans for improved early intervention are missing. We would also like to see more detailed plans laid out for addressing online VAWG.

There also doesn’t seem to be a plan to fully ratify the Istanbul Convention, so migrant women remain unprotected.

Overall, the Labour Party Manifesto lays out a number of positive plans for addressing domestic abuse and violence against women and girls, but some areas are lacking in detail. Other relevant sections of the manifesto - for example housing, health and social care - don't specifically mention the VAWG or domestic abuse, despite being key areas when it comes to ensuring survivors can access support.