The Justice for Gaia manifesto, which puts forwards demands around policing, mental health and social support, was created because four years on from Gaia’s death things have gone from bad to worse and thanks to outdated policies, devastating funding cuts and an unchecked culture of toxic sexism, lives like Gaia’s are still being risked and lost.
The manifesto emerged from us talking to leading womens’ rights organisations, mental health experts and disability rights campaigners about what needs to change to save lives like Gaia’s.
Essentially we are demanding that survivors get the support they deserve and that their voices are heard so we can all live in safer and fairer communities.
Most of these demands aren’t new but Gaia’s story gives them new urgency because it shows how devastating and deadly the consequences of the current system can be.
- The Istanbul Convention
The UK government must ratify the Istanbul Convention for the Prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls which will save lives like Gaia’s in the future. This legal framework to prevent violence, protect survivors and prosecute perpetrators, was signed in 2012 but still hasn’t been implemented. It would improve education and prevent further cuts to survivor support services by enshrining survivors’ rights in law. Click here to sign and share the petition.
– Update: we won! Justice for Gaia played an active part in the IC Change Coalition’s success pressuring the government to announce the ratification of the convention in May 2022. The fight continues to make sure the government complies with the spirit in practice, not just on paper and that it protects all women, no exceptions.
- Public Debate
Meaningful public debate about state misogyny and the multi-agency failures ruining and threatening the lives of survivors like Gaia.
- End NHS Demand Reduction
An end to “demand reduction” strategies which bring the police into mental health and criminalise those most in need of care and support.
- Replace PIP
Replacement of the Personal Independence Payments (PIP) system with a just alternative co-designed with disabled peoples’ organisations. The current system has been linked to thousands of deaths and is extremely damaging to claimants’ mental health.
- Establish a Rape Unit under Operation Soteria
Dorset Police must overhaul its approach to prosecuting sex offences by establishing a specialist serious sexual offences (Rasso) unit and adopting the evidence-based approach of Operation Soteria which should be rolled out nationally to focus police on investigating perpetrators more than re-traumatising survivors.
- VAWG Policing Framework
Dorset Police must develop and publish a comprehensive plan to implement the National Policing Framework for Violence Against Women (VAWG) from the National Police Chiefs’ Council. The framework helps target prolific perpetrators like Connor Hayes; supports a call-out culture for sexism and misogyny in the police; and improves processes for hearing concerns, particularly those who have been most ignored, such as Black and minoritised women and those critical of current police practises. You can read the blueprint here.
- Safeguard Our Community
An independent review of Dorset Police’s investigation and prosecution of Connor Hayes and his associates in order to safeguard our community and address any failures.
- Safeguard Survivors in Hospital
A trauma-informed revision of local and national safeguarding policy for preventing and responding to sexual harassment and abuse in inpatient settings.
- Independent Investigation of Mental Healthcare in Dorset
An independent investigation into the quality of care provided by Dorset Healthcare Trust with a focus on deaths under or soon after discharge from its care. Unexpected deaths of mental health patients in Dorset soared 50% in the three years before Gaia died.
- Funding Community Mental Health Support
Dorset Healthcare Trust to publish an update on how they are using additional funding provided under the NHS Long Term Plan to meet its obligation to improve personalised, trauma-informed care and access to psychological therapies for those experiencing severe mental distress.
- Answers About Gaia’s Care
A full and fearless assessment of the quality of care Gaia received and whether it contributed to her death.
- Answers About the Search for Gaia
A thorough explanation of why it took so long to find Gaia which addresses issues surrounding the initial risk assessment, interagency communication and other search issues. Appropriate action must be taken where procedures were not followed and action taken to make improvements where they fall short.
Staff directly implicated in any failings in Gaia’s case must be referred to relevant regulatory bodies and appropriate action taken to provide accountability and ensure others are protected in the future.
Meaningful involvement for the family in all processes.