Alison Hume, Labour candidate in the forthcoming Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner elections, has launched her manifesto, promising to prioritise better support for victims of crime as well as tackling violence against women and girls. As the only woman candidate standing in the May 6 elections, she has promised that as Commissioner she’ll ensure victims of crime are treated as people rather than cases.
“We know victim confidence in our criminal justice system is in sharp decline,” she said. “According to the Victims’ Commissioner Dame Vera Baird, more and more victims are withdrawing their support for prosecutions and, in a recent survey of rape complainants, only around one in seven said they felt reporting could end in justice. This is wrong and has to change.”
Ms Hume says that as Commissioner she’ll be pushing for the introduction of a special Victim’s Law to give victims more rights and better treatment.
“To regain the trust of victims, we urgently need a change of culture in how the justice system treats them. We need to lay out in law the role and rights of victims as participants in the criminal justice system. We need monitoring and compliance mechanisms to hold agencies to account and we need to establish a single unified victims’ complaints system.”
The issue of violence against women and girls has dominated the news agenda for the last few weeks following the murder of York woman Sarah Everard. Ms Hume says that again there needs to be a change in culture of how women and girls are treated and mistreated every day.
“Almost one in five of all crimes recorded are domestic abuse related. Three women a week are killed by a violent male partner. This must stop – surely we have now reached the moment when we say as a society that we will no longer tolerate this? I want to work with services, agencies, and the specialist sector to produce a strategy to dramatically reduce violence against women and girls in North Yorkshire. I’ll commission better support for families who have been locked down in unsafe homes and for victims of domestic abuse who are isolated in rural communities or are more vulnerable. I’ll work tirelessly to secure longer term funding for the vital life-saving work of refuges which have been devastated by cuts.
“The vast majority of victim-survivors of sexual violence and assault never report to the police. The charge rate for domestic abuse-related crime in North Yorkshire in 2019-20 was just 4%, compared to 9% in England and Wales as a whole. I want to work with the police to improve outcomes for victims of rape and all gender-based crime and use my voice nationally to campaign for tougher sentences for rape, stalking and domestic homicide. As the mother of two young women, I want to ensure their safety and the safety of their friends when they go about their daily lives.”
Alison who works as a BAFTA winning screenwriter and lecturer in the creative industries is also the parent of a son with complex disabilities. She’s spent the last 20 years fighting to improve the opportunities and services in York and North Yorkshire, most recently leading a campaign to improve access to York city centre for disabled citizens and visitors.
“I know what it’s like to fight to be heard, and I know what it’s like when someone finally listens. I want to listen to the people of North Yorkshire and to act to provide them with services that support and protect them and their families.
“We all want to live in safer, more connected communities, especially after the heart-breaking experiences of the pandemic. Under the Tory Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, violent crime is rising and victims are waiting years for justice. Funding for fire and rescue services has been slashed. It means there are fewer firefighters, working from fewer stations, at a time when demand is rising for them to provide support to deal with things like floods. This can’t go on.
“It’s time for a Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner who connects with all the communities across North Yorkshire they are elected to represent: a People’s Commissioner. I want everyone in North Yorkshire to be able to live safely in their homes, villages, towns and or city where policing is on your side and the fire service can meet your needs. I will use my voice of experience to fight for better funding for frontline services and get the investment we are overdue from the Government.”