Every three days

Richard Garside
Friday, 27 November 2020

“Over the ten years from 2009 to 2018, at least 1,425 women were killed by men in the UK. This means that a man killed a woman every three days.”

This is the stark reality of male violence towards women, as explained by the Femicide Census, published earlier this week on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

On the same day, the ‘Counting Dead Women’ project, set up by one of the Census authors, Karen Ingala Smith, commemorated UK women and girls killed by men in the previous twelve months, naming them on Twitter, one at a time, every five minutes.

It took nine hours to commemorate all those killed.

Two-thirds of those women killed by men were killed by a current or former partner. One third had children under 18 years of age. Little has changed in the past decade, and more, with women being killed by men at depressingly regular intervals.

Confronted by this awful reality, many men and boys feel uncomfortable, attacked even. But confronting and reversing centuries of misogyny and violence is unlikely to be an easy or comfortable experience.

Naming the problem and acknowledging its scale will not, of itself, make it go away. It is, though, an important first step.

In the run up to last year's General Election, the then top civil servant at the Ministry of Justice, Sir Richard Heaton, told MPs that Conservative plans to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers would likely drive up the prison population.

This was why the government was pledged to create 10,000 additional prison places, he said.

Yesterday the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a new target of 18,000 additional places, at the cost of £4 billion. The government also remains committed to recruiting thousands of additional police officers.

The lesson of the past fifty-plus years is that prison expansion begets further prison expansion. Changes in one part of the system – recruiting more police officers, for instance – has knock-on effects in other parts of the system.

This is why we set up our After Prison programme. There is always a better way to use a particular piece of land than as a place for a prison. Until we start closing prisons and reusing the land for more socially useful purposes, ongoing prison expansion will be the default.