(Title Image: Welsh Rugby Union)
A bit later than I otherwise would’ve liked, here’s a summary of yesterday’s questions to the Leader of the House who, as regular readers will probably already know by now, has a number of additional ministerial responsibilities such as technology, superfast broadband, equalities etc. Whether that will continue after the imminent reshuffle….we’ll find out soon enough.
Is Wales Fairer?
Starting things off, Shadow Skills Minister, Mohammad Asghar AM (Con, South Wales East) said a recent human rights report (Is Wales Fairer?) concluded that domestic violence continues to be under-reported, with two Welsh police forces failing to record 8,400 incidents over the last four years. What actions were being taken to maintain funding for specialist services?
The Leader of the House, Julie James (Lab, Swansea West), said a consistent approach was key to addressing it so people reporting domestic violence end up on the same pathways regardless of where in Wales they are.
She went on to say that the Domestic Violence Act 2015 places a duty on councils to carry out a needs assessment in their area. The first one has only just concluded and will be used to judge the amount of funding needed – though it’ll be distributed in a way so that various organisations aren’t competing against each other for money.
Need for Speed
Bethan Sayed AM (Plaid, South Wales West) said that while the number of businesses accessing broadband of up to 34 Mbps has increased in Wales, what were the Welsh Government’s plans to keep pace with technology as it changes and demands for additional bandwidth and faster speeds increases?
Also, broadband often wasn’t enough in itself:
“Last year, a report by Which? showed that Wales had the worst 4G coverage in the UK, with 4G customers in Wales on average only able to get a 4G signal just about 35% of the time. We’re now looking at the point where we are having 5G being introduced, but we risk being left behind here in Wales because we’re still not accessing 4G, and therefore that could mean that many people are being left with technology that is obsolete.”
– Bethan Sayed AM
The Leader of the House told AMs the superfast broadband roll-out had some inbuilt flexibility:
“….sometimes people wait for the superfast programme to come, they get 30 Mbps or so, but they run a large caravan site or a big farm business and, actually, they need 100 Mbps in order to get their business need. So, the system is capable of delivering that, but they have to understand what they require and then we can help them get the best internet service provider, for example, and a system with planning for that.”
– Leader of the House, Julie James
She admitted the 4G situation was a frustration to her and blamed the way the UK Government sold the 4G spectrum which was inadequate in terms of geographical spread. The Welsh Government have “lobbied hard” with the Scottish Government and regional mayors in England to make sure that when the 5G spectrum is sold it’s not done in the same manner.
Sport’s role in combatting domestic violence
Jack Sargeant AM (Lab, Alyn & Deeside) said studies have linked major sporting events to an increase in domestic violence.
“For example, during the 2002, 2006 and 2010 football World Cups, Lancaster police force recorded a rise of domestic violence by 38 per cent on the days when England lost, and I understand this to be the case in more recent tournaments as well. Similar to that, South Wales Police have recorded increased reports when Wales play England at rugby in Cardiff, and, in recent years, the offences rose by 79 per cent, compared to the week before.”
– Jack Sargeant AM
He believes sport can be exploited to confront men with these issues, citing examples of various sports clubs who have backed the White Ribbon campaign.
The Leader of the House congratulated those clubs which have taken part in the campaign. The Welsh Government ran anti-domestic violence campaigns during the recent Autumn Internationals and this will run during the 2019 Six Nations. The aim is for the campaigns to get the same levels of awareness as football’s anti-racism “Kick it Out” campaign so men are aware that domestic violence isn’t an acceptable response to disappointment or victory.