SafeLives gives evidence to Domestic Abuse Bill committee
SafeLives gives evidence to the Domestic Abuse Bill committee, urging the Government to be more ambitious than its proposals to support just 0.5% of victims of abuse
This afternoon, Suzanne Jacob OBE will give evidence to the Public Bill Committee on the Domestic Abuse Bill. SafeLives welcomes the return of the Bill but urges the Government to strengthen the legislation. In its current form, the Bill proposes a duty to support just 0.5% of the two million adults a year who are subjected to domestic abuse. We believe that the Government can and should be much more ambitious.
The Government currently proposes to put refuge provision on a statutory footing. This is welcome. However, only 0.5% of those who had an experience of domestic abuse last year (13,000 of the whole two million) used a refuge. While spaces are scarce and a further 12,000 victims of abuse couldn’t get a place, the duty as drafted will still barely scratch the surface of the problem and offer support to only a tiny minority. It will also create a legislative preference for victims – the vast majority women and children – having to run away to a secure location to see an end to abuse, rather than the perpetrator or perpetrators being properly dealt with, and adult and child victims able to stay safely in their own home, as should be their right.
SafeLives will be calling for the Government to:
- Accept Barnardo’s amendment calling for a full statutory duty and for children to be recognised as victims in their own right
- Accept the call by 80+ organisations for a comprehensive strategy to deal with domestic abusers, going well beyond the suggested DAPO civil powers
- Fund domestic abuse strategy and response proportionate to the scale and severity of the threat it poses to individual lives and society as a whole
We will also be strongly supporting calls by other organisations:
- Women’s Aid: create a safer family court system for adult and child survivors
- Surviving Economic Abuse: recognise post-separation abuse as a crime
- Stay Safe East: abolish the so-called ‘carers defence’
- End Violence Against Women coalition and Latin American Women’s Rights Service: include a non-discrimination principle to protect survivors regardless of immigration status
Suzanne Jacob said: ‘The Government has said it wants to transform the response to domestic abuse – but words are not enough if this ambition is to be realised. Adult and child survivors all over this country – whatever their background or situation – deserve the quickest and most effective support. This includes tackling the root the cause of domestic abuse, which is those who use abusive behaviours. Survivors will only have trust in the system if they see both action taken against the person hurting them, and that when they reach out for help, the help is there.
‘Domestic abuse is not just a criminal justice issue; it’s also a public health problem and an equalities issue. It’s time for a cross-government strategy, backed by sustainable funding, to ensure support is there for anyone who needs it – and prevention and early intervention work that will help us to break the cycle for good.’