Why is domestic abuse and stalking not considered serious by government?

Prison Capacity
Justice Questions (21 November 2023)

Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Victims and Sentencing)
The Secretary of State’s emergency early release scheme is meant to tackle a capacity crisis that is entirely of this Government’s making, and it excludes only serious violence. Surely domestic abuse and stalking are serious offences, yet they are not excluded from early release. What kind of signal does that give to victims, the public, and indeed perpetrators of violence against women and girls?

Alex Chalk The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
We are proud that under this Government sentences for offences such as rape have gone up by a third. We have a situation in which charges are up, the conviction rate is higher and sentences are longer—and, unlike under the Labour Government, people are spending a higher proportion of those sentences in custody. We think that is the right thing to do. To the hon. Member’s point, the exclusions in place go beyond what he indicated, so he is factually incorrect; they also include sex offences and terrorist offences. Here is a really important point: where the custodial authorities are satisfied that there is a specific risk, there is an opportunity to ensure that release is blocked. That is important, because we will always stand up for victims of crime.

Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Victims and Sentencing)
Argument weak? Go long and do not answer the question—the classic response from this Government. The truth is that without any Government announcement of a start date, prisons began releasing offenders over a month ago. These men are already walking our streets, but the Government will not tell us how many, or why they were behind bars in the first place. Why do the Government not believe that the public deserve to know who is being released back into the community when a court decided that they should be in prison?

Alex Chalk The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
We will make whatever appropriate announcements in due course; we will not demur from that. We will also not apologise for having, under this Government, a higher custodial population than before. We are taking robust steps to ensure that the public are protected, which means unashamedly that those who commit the most serious offences—those such as murder in the context of sexual or sadistic conduct—go to prison for the rest of their lives. Will the hon. Member support that? I wonder. We are also using the evidence so that those capable of rehabilitation are rehabilitated. One thing that we will not ever put at risk is the threat to women and girls. As the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend Laura Farris, indicated, we have taken steps to ensure that victims of domestic abuse will be properly protected under the Government.