Consultation on proposed Domestic Abuse Bill

By agency reporter
March 12, 2018

The government has launched a consultation on a new Domestic Abuse Bill. The consultation will seek views on proposed legislation, as well as other steps that can be taken to tackle the harms caused by domestic abuse, and support victims and survivors to rebuild their lives. These include:

  • Potential for the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, known as Clare’s Law, to be enshrined in legislation. This allows police to disclose information about previous violent offending by a new or existing partner and build better protection for victims and has already been rolled out operationally across the country.
  • Proposals to give domestic abuse victims the same status in court as those who have suffered modern slavery or sex offences, so that they would be automatically eligible for the range of special measures available in criminal proceedings, such as giving evidence behind a screen or via video link.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of Women's Aid, said, “The Domestic Abuse Bill is a unique opportunity to make a real difference to survivors’ lives. We are delighted that the government has listened to our concerns by recognising that there must be sustainable funding for refuges to put an end to the current post-code lottery of support available, which leaves women and children with nowhere to turn and puts lives at further risk.

"These life-saving services are not an optional extra but an essential piece of the jigsaw in our response to domestic abuse; the support that refuges and community services provide, from drop-in centres to counselling, legal advice and helplines, is often the key to survivors accessing help from the police and other agencies.

“The Bill’s ambition will be undermined if there is not a long-term, sustainable funding plan for refuges in place. We are calling on the government to give survivors a cast-iron guarantee that they will not go ahead with planned changes to how refuges will be funded, which threaten these life-saving services with closure.

“That’s why we want to see a Domestic Abuse Bill that encompasses and goes beyond changes to the criminal justice system. We know that many women do not feel able to report abuse to the police, so we need a Bill that makes domestic abuse everyone’s business. It must reach beyond a criminal justice response to include policies on housing, education, health, immigration and the welfare system to name but a few, so that all survivors and their children get the support they need, when and where they need it.

“Children are often the unseen victims of domestic abuse, they do not only witness domestic abuse but experience it and must be supported and protected too. We welcome the government’s recognition that more must be done for children who experience domestic abuse. Any new measures must include protection in the family courts and robust support services in place to help children overcome trauma.

“The proposed Domestic Abuse Commissioner is a real opportunity to tackle the current post-code lottery of support available for survivors. The Commissioner must be granted robust powers and resources so that they can monitor levels and quality of service provision and hold all agencies to account to ensure that every survivor gets earlier, more effective support, as well as shine light on all forms of violence against women and girls.

“We want this Bill to be rooted in the reality of survivors’ experience and bring about a step change in our national response to domestic abuse. This consultation is an opportunity for the government to provide survivors with a cast-iron guarantee that refuges will be protected. We look forward to working with them to create a long-term and sustainable funding solution to ensure that refuges can continue to operate as a national network for every woman and child who cannot safely stay in their own home.”

* The consultation can be accessed here

* Ministry of Justice

* Women's Aid


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