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TACKLING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN MUST BE A PRIORITY, SAY LONDON COUNCILS

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The Metropolitan Police Commissioner's annual report, published yesterday, reveals that a rape or sexual assault ta...
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner's annual report, published yesterday, reveals that a rape or sexual assault takes place every hour in London. But council leaders meeting at the Association of London Government heard that, shocking as they are, police figures could hide the real extent of the problem because of under-reporting of attacks.

A report to the leaders' committee of the ALG, which represents all 33 London boroughs, said that half of women feel unsafe when walking alone at night in their own neighbourhoods, and almost three quarters of young women are worried about being raped. Whilst reported rape has increased (which could be due to greater willingness to report), Home Office figures show that the conviction rate for rape has dropped alarmingly from 24% to 9%.

The recent publication of Living Without Fear, the government's national strategy on violence against women, is the first time that a UK government has acknowledged the extent of violence against women and the need for an integrated approach to deal with it, says the ALG.

'The threat or reality of sexual and domestic violence impacts on the lives of many women' said ALG equalities chair Karen Jewitt. 'A third of all women experience domestic violence at some point in their lives, and around 25 London women are killed by their current or former partner each year.

'Violence against women - especially domestic violence - has been identified as a key issue in all London boroughs in the crime audits and community safety plans drawn up under the Crime and Disorder Act.'

ALG leaders agreed to convene a major conference in the autumn for London boroughs and partner agencies to consider how best to develop an effective integrated approach to tackling violence against women.

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