News – Politics – I’ll make streets safe for women, vows Liz Truss

Liz Truss has vowed to crack down on violence against women by introducing a new law to criminalise street harassment and a national domestic abuse register to protect victims at home.

The Tory leadership candidate pledged to do more to make Britain’s streets safer for women after the nation was “shocked” by a series of high-profile cases over the past two years, including the murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa in London.

Ms Truss told the Standard: “Violence against women and girls doesn’t have to be inevitable. Women should be able to walk the streets without fear of harm and perpetrators must expect to be punished. It is the responsibility of all political leaders, including us in Westminster and the Mayor of London to do more.”

Ms Truss said that if she beats Rishi Sunak in the battle to become Britain’s next Prime Minister, she will introduce a stand-alone offence to criminalise street harassment, clamping down on aggressive and misogynistic behaviour.

The Government is currently consulting on whether to introduce a Public Sexual Harassment Act and said earlier this month that it had not made a decision on the new offence. But with official data earlier this year showing that one in two women felt unsafe walking alone after dark in a quiet street near their home, campaigners are calling for tougher action.

As part of her crime crackdown, the Foreign Secretary committed to build on the Government’s Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy by announcing plans to:

  • Rapidly introduce a National Domestic Abuse Register which would also cover coercive and controlling behaviour and financial abuse. Under the proposal, convicted offenders would be required to inform the police of arrangements with new partners and their children and the most violent offenders could be tagged.
  • Accelerate the process for handling rape cases, ensuring cases are able to reach investigatory standards from the start to allow quicker progress through the courts and ensuring they are equipped with the technology to use recorded video.
  • Train police officers to give them the tools they need to respond effectively to vulnerable victims.

The announcement came as the two rivals for the Tory leadership engaged in a fresh war of words over tax cuts. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who is backing Ms Truss, accused Mr Sunak of “flip flopping” after he pledged to slash VAT on domestic energy bills. The latest polling by YouGov showed Mr Sunak is behind Ms Truss in the contest, which will be decided by around 160,000 Tory party members by September 5.

In a bid to boost his campaign the former chancellor announced yesterday a new “winter” plan to help ease the cost-of- living crisis — including a commitment to remove VAT on energy bills if the Ofgem price cap exceeds £3,000 this October, saving households £160 next year. Analysts have already predicted the cap could hit £3,200, up from £1,971 in April.

The divide between Mr Sunak and Ms Truss on tax and the economy has been the defining issue of the leadership campaign so far with him arguing that the Foreign Secretary’s pledge of £30 billion of immediate tax cuts would drive up inflation, risking higher interest rates. Ms Truss, meanwhile, has claimed that Mr Sunak’s plan to delay cutting taxes until inflation, already at 9.4 per cent, is back under control risks tipping the UK economy into recession.

Mr Kwarteng said he was pleased his former cabinet colleague had changed his mind on tax, but criticised him over the U-turn. The Business Secretary said: “He said tax cuts were a fairytale… he also implied he was the grown-up because he was going to simply continue the status quo of increasing taxes.

“Belatedly I am very happy to see he has changed his mind and the VAT cut he is proposing today is the very cut he opposed when he was chancellor until about three weeks ago.”

But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who is backing Mr Sunak to be premier, dismissed claims of a U-turn, saying the move was a “sensible and rational way to operate”.

“He always said he would keep a very close eye on this. We now know the position coming up to this autumn with regards to gas prices in particular and so he has said he can do something further on energy bills. I think it’s consistent with what he has said all along.”

The leadership candidates were back on the campaign trail today after last night’s televised TalkTV/Sun debate was dramatically halted when host Kate McCann fainted live on air.

Ms Truss had said it was “morally wrong” to raise taxes during a cost-of-living crisis, but the former chancellor hit back by saying it was “morally wrong” to heap more debt on future generations.*Y3JGbjdmQjdqck9BVVp3djI1azNjcjhmYlNWcW5yWUpkVkhxTHJSMFhKdG1GR1FLbTV5SjY1c2puYnRfU0F4MA

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