For everyone across England, Wales and Northern Ireland (Scotland have delayed their’s for a year) this Sunday is Census Day! Hopefully everyone has received their form and the census can be filled out online using the following link: https://census.gov.uk
Censuses allow for population trends to be tracked and help organisations to plan public services for the future.
The Census has deep roots. The first Census in England, debatably, was the Domesday Book – so called because villagers believed Willian the Conqueror’s inquisitors were asking the same detailed questions they would expect on the Day of Judgement! The modern Census started in England in 1841 which, available on-line, is a fascinating insight into the lives of our ancestors.
Censuses have been held every ten years since, apart from in 1941, and throughout this time the topics covered have evolved. The 2001 census was the first time a question about religion was asked since 1851. Readers may remember the concerns about this question at the time and the campaign to get people to list their religion as “Jedi”.
The controversies of recent years have many antecedents - from what questions to include through to concerns about the state “prying” into peoples’ lives. Issues of “liberty” and the role of the state that have always been prevalent in the UK, have regularly resurfaced over Identity Cards – which unlike most of Europe we have always rejected in peacetime – and still are apparent in concerns expressed over covid “vaccine passports” and if and how they should be used.
Emily Davison, the leading “suffragette” campaigner for women to have the vote, who was so tragically killed protesting at the Derby, used the 1911 Census to score a PR coup. She hid overnight on Census Day in the Houses of Parliament – proudly recording this and pointing out that this illegal act was the only way a woman could get into parliament.
We can only imagine how appalled Emily Davison would be by the fact that, prompted by the dreadful murder of Sarah Everard, we are still debating in the third decade of the 21st century ongoing violence against women. Over recent days, many women have shared stories online which have been very powerful. Every woman should feel safe to walk on our streets without fear of intimidation, harassment or violence.
The Government was already scheduled to bring forward a new “Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls” strategy later this year. The consultation had been closed, however the Government has reopened it to collect further views from all those who want to participate. It will now remain open until 26 March 2021 and everyone who wants to make their views known is very much welcome to take part: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/violence-against-women-and-girls-vawg-call-for-evidence