Tuesday, 22 June 2010

A commitment on rape the government should keep

[trigger warning]

The discussions in Parliament on rape defendant anonymity continue (timeline updated), but meanwhile there is a second government policy proposal that also deserves some attention, and would do a lot of good if it happened.

Phillipa Willitts at The F-Word draws attention to a campaign by Rape Crisis (England and Wales) to make sure that the coalition government keeps its promise (in the Justice section of the Programme for Government) to:

[...] consider how to use proceeds from the Victim Surcharge to deliver up to 15 new rape crisis centres, and give existing rape crisis centres stable, long-term funding.

Naturally, Rape Crisis would prefer that they did more than "consider how to" do this, and actually implemented it.

They have a sample letter which they suggest is sent to Theresa May MP, the Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities. Given that her department has previously said "nothing to do with us, that's a Justice proposal" on a related matter, it might be worth also sending it to Kenneth Clarke MP, the Minister for Justice.

As always, if you have the time to adapt and rephrase the template letter to reflect your personal thoughts and writing style, it's more likely to be taken into consideration - receiving 50 different letters has far more impact with MPs than receiving 500 identical ones. (Nevertheless, if you don't have the time, energy and/or ability to set thoughts down in writing in a manner you are satisfied with, it's still definitely better to send a template letter than not to do so).

Here's mine (a slightly different version went to Kenneth Clarke):

Dear Theresa May MP, Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities

In the coalition Programme for Government is the commitment to

consider how to use proceeds from the Victim Surcharge to deliver up to 15 new rape crisis centres, and give existing rape crisis centres stable, long-term funding.

Your colleague, Kenneth Clarke QC MP, reiterated this commitment in Parliament on 15 June (HC Deb, 15 June 2010, c725), saying

The Government are committed to providing up to 15 more rape crisis centres.

With 10 centres in England and Wales having closed in the previous five years, this remains an urgent issue. It is not enough for the government to commit to providing funding for these centres; it needs to begin providing that funding urgently.

Rape crisis centres provide an extremely valuable service to women and girls who have survived rape, providing specialist support services that would otherwise be unavailable, but the lack of sustainable funding means that many areas of England and Wales do not have a rape crisis centre, and for those that do the future is uncertain.

In Scotland, however, the provision of guaranteed government funding has significantly improved the stability of rape crisis centres, and allowed four more to open.

The government must back up its commitment with quick action, and allow rape victims/survivors in England and Wales access to the same services as are available in Scotland. Will you, in conjunction with your colleagues in the Ministry of Justice, set a date for this commitment to be implemented, in time to prevent the closure of further centres.

Yours sincerely,


Contact details for Equalities Office

Contact details for the Ministry of Justice

The F-Word post includes details of other possible campaign actions.