I spoke in a debate about support for black victims of domestic abuse and urged the Government to support Valerie’s law. This proposal is named after a constituent, Valerie Forde, who was brutally murdered with her 23-month-old daughter, Jah-zara, by her ex-partner. Valerie’s law would mandate specialist cultural competency training for police officers, relevant government agencies, and domestic violence safehouse staff so that black and minority ethnic women affected by domestic abuse are appropriately supported.
The statistics behind this issue are stark. Between 2016 and 2020 police forces were one and a half times more likely to bring forward a charge when the victim or survivor was white than when they were black. The number of high-risk domestic abuse cases heard in Hackney increased by 20 per cent in the first year of the pandemic. There is an urgent need for change and better support. Some of the lack of support is about misunderstanding, some of it is about unconscious bias, and some of it is about racist attitudes that lead to stereotyped views of how black women are treated. Supporting Valerie’s law would be a simple and propionate step by the Government, but it must also do more. Cuts to local authority funding have meant small specialist organisations that work with specific groups, such as black women, often find it hard to compete for contracts. The Government must fund and properly resource local authorities so this can also change. See here to watch my speech in full.