Questions to the First Minister (22/01/19)


First Minister, sex attacks and other similar offences against an individual are horrific examples of the darkest and most disturbed corners of our society, be the victim a man, a woman or a child. Such treatment is abhorrent, illegal and most certainly immoral. In addition to sex attacks, though, we have a worryingly high known rate of domestic abuse and sexual violence across England and Wales. Indeed, in the year ending March 2018, an estimated 2 million adults aged 16 to 59 years experienced domestic abuse in the last year. That is 695,000 men and 1.3 million women. Now, with regard to the latter, Baroness Hale, the president of the Supreme Court, recently commented that:

'Domestic violence and abuse is still all too common and, according to a recent study, a frequent reason why women now lose their children into the care system.'

First Minister, will you clarify what further steps can be taken? I do appreciate that a lot of work had gone on by your Welsh Government previously, but there needs to be more. So, what steps will you take to ensure that there is a reduction of sex attacks in Wales and domestic abuse and sexual violence, and that, where there is proven abuse to victims, they don't then see their children being lost to the care system across Wales?


First Minister:

I thank the Member for that important supplementary question. She is quite right that a great deal of work has gone on across this Chamber, including putting on the statute book the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015. It has been followed up. We have trained 135,000 professionals to recognise the signs of domestic violence here in Wales so that it doesn't go unreported or unattended, and we are investing £5 million in this financial year in grants under that Act to local authorities and third sector organisations to be able to make sure that we are able to follow through on the issues that the Member has raised.

She will know that I have previously referred to the rates at which children are taken away from families here in Wales, and circumstances in which women lose their children as a result of abuse that they have suffered is clearly unacceptable as a course of action and will be part of a new focus that I want the Government to place on making sure that we do everything we can to help families through difficult periods and to help families to stay together, rather than thinking that removing children from families is always the best way of responding to difficulty and distress.