Consultation response from the women's policy group Northern Ireland.

This is an excerpt from the WPG response, you can read the full document here.

The Women’s Policy Group have identified several significant concerns with this Draft Strategy which we have highlighted throughout this response. In general, the over-arching issue with the approach taken in this Draft Strategy is that it is impossible to gauge the depth of the work proposed, impossible to accurately measure outcomes, there are no identifiable targets, no allocated budget, and should there be issues with the workstream, nobody is assigned responsibility for it – and so nobody is answerable for any failures. This is simply not good enough.

This Strategy has to be seen in the context of epidemic-level rates of domestic abuse, slow progress through courts and inconsistent sentencing, overcrowded shelters and stretched outreach services, spiralling rates of sexual violence against dismal rates of prosecution, and repeat offenders of these kinds of crimes reoffending again and again. We are in a crisis and more of the same will not suffice.

Comparing this Strategy and the co-design process behind it with the work ongoing on the Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (EVAWG) Strategy, the difference is stark. The co-design process on that Strategy was one informed both by true principles of co-design and by a deep sense of responsibility for the outcome; an understanding that this was an opportunity to take seriously an enduring scourge in our society that is killing, maiming and harming our population at astonishing rates. Next to that, this feels weak, by rote, and knowingly so – hence the lack of any measurable outcomes that would demonstrate the lack of positive progress.

We understand the financial pressures that the Executive is currently experiencing and will more acutely experience when the Executive returns. That is not an excuse for the approach taken in this Draft Strategy. This Strategy will last seven years and to commit no resources to this very serious issue is offensive to victims and survivors, as well as the organisations in the Community and Voluntary Sector who presently pick up the pieces and rely on funding from charities to do their vital work.

We would also like to raise specific concerns regarding the nature of this consultation on the Draft Strategy. By asking a limited number of questions on definitions and pillars, the consultation is harmfully narrow in scope which limits the potential for meaningful critique. It is our view that consultees have not been given a meaningful opportunity to comment on the substance of the Strategy because of these narrow questions.