Press Release

5 October 2021

Refuge responds to Home Secretary’s speech to Conservative Party Conference

Responding to the Home Secretary’s speech to Conservative Party Conference today, Ruth Davison, Refuge CEO said:

‘While it was heartening to see Violence against Women and Girls as the headline item in the Home Secretary’s speech to Conference today, Refuge is concerned that the limit of government ambition to tackle this serious issue is nothing more than an inquiry and a task force. These measures will cause delays, spend more public money, and push the issue into the political long grass. What we need is affirmative action to address the systematic failures in policing which allowed Wayne Couzens, a serving police officer, to commit such a heinous crime, and we need to see that action now

In March, this government committed to ensuring its 43 police forces sign up to recognising misogyny as a hate crime. Yet so far, only 11 forces have done so. This morning the Prime Minster said that addressing domestic abuse and rape were his number one policing priority. The announcements today do not reflect this. The culture of misogyny which runs through policing is continuing without challenge.

Refuge and the women it serves, need to see meaningful action from the government now – actions which holds the police to account and dramatically improves how they respond to violence against women and girls.

Refuge remains resolute in its demands – violence against women and girls (VAWG) must be treated as the serious crime that it is. The Policing Bill, due to return to the House of Lords later this month, offers a real opportunity to extend the Serious Violence Duty so it includes VAWG. That would be a first step to seriously addressing the circumstances which led to the horrific murder of Sarah Everard, and the 81 other women whose lives have been lost to male violence since Sarah’s tragic death.

The time to act is now. For Sarah. For Sabina. For every woman who has lost her life to male violence, the government must act now.’

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About Refuge:

Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner.
Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit