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Shadow Cabinet visits domestic abuse charity in Hammersmith

  • March 26, 2024
  • 4 min read
Shadow Cabinet visits domestic abuse charity in Hammersmith

Domestic abuse charity Advance was visited by Shadow Home, Secretary Yvette Cooper and Shadow Attorney General, Emily Thornberry on Thursday last.

During their tour of Advance’s Hammersmith Women’s Centre, the Shadow Cabinet members outlined the key recommendations of The Charging Commission, set up with the core purpose of delivering justice for victims, with a particular focus on victims of domestic abuse, rape and sexual assault.

Yvette and Emily met frontline staff and talked to women who have used Advance services, who shared their experiences of domestic abuse and being failed by the criminal justice system, including police attitudes to reporting of abuse.

After visiting Advance’s Hammersmith Women’s Centre, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, said: “Domestic abuse is a silent plague which ruins lives, destroys families and can sadly result in death. Advance does amazing work with women and it was a privilege to meet with those who have benefitted from the service and who were at different points in their journey – some still going through the criminal justice system and others who have rebuilt their lives and now work to empower other women because of the confidence that Advance has given them.

“Labour has set an ambitious mission to halve violence against women within ten years and to do that we need to work with organisations like Advance and to learn from their expertise and the experiences of survivors so we can help to prevent domestic abuse and reform the criminal justice system so it better protects victims.”

Liz Mack, CEO of Advance, said: “The visit to Advance’s Hammersmith Women’s Centre, was a poignant reminder of the importance of the work that still needs to be done to ensure survivors of domestic abuse receive justice. We are so grateful to the courageous women who shared their real-life experiences of abuse, which sadly reflect so many women’s everyday reality. We welcomed the Shadow Home Secretary and Shadow Attorney General’s openness and interest in listening to the women’s stories, the role of our women’s centres, and need for specialist support and training throughout the criminal justice system.”

Labour’s Charging Commission, established by Yvette and Emily, explores how the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) can work more effectively together to deliver justice for victims, particularly domestic abuse survivors.

The Commission’s recommendation to give victims in domestic abuse, rape and sexual assault cases the right to have specialist support advisors with them throughout the criminal justice process mirrors a recommendation from Advance’s new Her Story, Her Justice report. Advance’s call for a duty to collaborate between the police and the Crown Prosecution Service and joint performance monitoring is also echoed by the Commission.

Criminal Justice Independent Domestic Abuse Advocates (CJ IDVAs) are a vital part of Advance’s Whole Justice Approach which aims to improve prosecutions and convictions of abuse by working jointly with the police, CPS, courts and prison services, supporting both professionals and survivors. And the Approach works – we’ve seen a 51% increase in the proportion of arrests leading to charges and a 34% increase in rates of conviction of DA cases.”

Gigi, one of the women supported by Advance, said: Yvette and Emily came across as very sincere in listening to us and it was a very positive experience for me to meet other survivors. Although it can be emotionally challenging to hear other’s domestic abuse stories, it’s also validating for them and for you.”

Tracey, another woman with lived experience, said: “To have a voice that was heard by Yvette and Emily was a really good experience. It is time that our stories were told and that we are listened to as individuals and not just tick boxes.”

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