Life

The Tories Voted Down a Landmark Proposal to Protect Women

The government claims it's not a u-turn.
April 16, 2021, 11:53am
Women at the Sarah Everard vigil at Clapham Common
Women at the Sarah Everard vigil at Clapham Common. Photo: Anna Watson / Alamy Stock Photo

The government has rejected a landmark amendment to introduce a national register for serial perpetrators of stalking and domestic violence.

351 Conservative MPs – including Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss – voted down Amendment 42 to the Domestic Abuse Bill on Thursday.

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Over 245,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling on the government to introduce the register, and campaigners had previously expressed hope that the government would support the amendment in the wake of the tragic murder of Sarah Everard.

The initial signs were encouraging. The Lords supported the amendment in March by a landslide vote, and Home Secretary Priti Patel and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland had reportedly also backed calls for a “super-register” of offenders. Both Patel and Buckland voted against the amendment this week.

A government spokesperson denied that this was a “u-turn”, and told the i that a register would “add complexity to [Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements] arrangements without any gain”.

Violent and sex offenders in England and Wales are currently put on a register and are monitored through Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) administered by the probation service, the prison service and police forces.

Junior minister Victoria Atkins told the Commons during the debate: “The government believes that creating a new MAPPA category for high-harm domestic abuse and stalking perpetrators would bring in added complexity to the MAPPA framework without compensating benefits.”

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Zoe Dronfield, 43, from Coventry was nearly killed by an ex-partner even after reporting his stalking to the police. She now campaigns with anti-stalking charity Paladin to raise awareness of stalking, and her case was cited by Labour MP Jess Phillips in the Commons debate on Thursday.

Dronfield told VICE that it was a “disgrace” that the government had voted down the amendment. “I am disgusted and they should feel ashamed – they have failed victims today,” she says. “We will all now have to watch in horror as more women are killed by known perpetrators who have been given the green light to offend with impunity.”

In 2018, Broadly partnered with Paladin to call for a stalkers’ register to protect victims and survivors. It also revealed that 60 women in the UK had been killed by their abusive partner, ex-partner or stalker since 2015, despite reporting their killers to police for threatening behaviour prior to their deaths.

“The government chose to vote against Amendment 42, which is hugely disappointing and troubling,” says Paladin founder Laura Richards. “In the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder they said that women’s safety is a priority. Their actions today show otherwise.

“The government has misjudged the climate. Women are angry and we have had enough of being treated like we don’t matter. This is not over. We will not give up and will continue the fight to make this happen.”

@misszing