Domestic Abuse Bill
Two women a week die at the hands of their partners or ex-partners, and one in five children experience domestic abuse growing up. These victims face a postcode lottery in accessing life-saving support which the Domestic Abuse Bill must urgently address.
We welcome the return of the Domestic Abuse Bill but urge the UK Government to strengthen the legislation to include a full statutory duty on local authorities to provide both accommodation-based and community-based services for adult and child victims, as well as perpetrators of abuse. This is necessary to end the postcode lottery of support and ensure everyone can access the help they need. COVID-19 has thrown into sharp relief how easily victims of domestic abuse can be omitted from vital support because of lack of funding.
Getting this wrong will risk lives, which is why we are calling for MPs to #Invest2EndAbuse and support Barnardo’s full statutory duty amendment which has been developed in consultation with specialist VAWG and children sector organisations and is supported by the End Violence Against Women coalition, SafeLives and the Equality and Human Rights Commission among others. Read Barnardos briefing for amendment NC23 here.
We wrote a letter to Priti Patel and Robert Buckland calling on them to #Invest2EndAbuse in the Domestic Abuse Bill, backed by over 130 frontline services and small organisations.
Read our briefing for the Committee Stage of the Domestic Abuse Bill and the EHRC’s briefing.
Also see Respect and Rights of Women briefing on the Domestic Abuse Protection Order and the VAWG sector's Joint Evidence for the Public Bill Committee
SafeLives also supports amendments promoted by our sector colleagues including Surviving Economic Abuse who are calling for the Government to recognise post-separation coercive and controlling abuse as a crime.
SafeLives backs Respect's amendment to ensure that perpetrator interventions, which can be issued by a judge through a DAPO (Domestic Abuse Prevention Orders), to meet a safe minimum standard.
See also Lis Bates and Marianne Hester's 2020 paper 'No longer a civil matter? The design and use of protection orders for domestic violence in England and Wales, Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law' in which victims express they want civil-issued Non-Molestation Orders (NMOs), and for the police to enforce breaches of those orders. It also recommends reviewing how victims’ wishes are taken into account in applications for DAPOs, and careful monitoring of the reasons courts reject applications for the new orders or the reasons that prevent victims applying.
We are supporting Action for Children's amendment to recognise that children experience domestic abuse as opposed to "witnessing" it.
Stay Safe East who work with disabled survivors and are campaigning to abolish the so-called ‘carers’ defence’ in the Serious Crime Act 2015.
We back the work that the "We can't consent to this" campaign is doing on stopping the "rough sex" defence that perpetrators are using to avoid justice for their abuse.
The Centre for Women's Justice is proposing an amendment to make non-fatal strangulation a criminal offence. Strangulation is very common and should be a red flag in domestic abuse cases. It is often used as a tool of power and control, but the risk of death is also 8 times higher for women who experience it. It is terrifying and can cause long term psychological and physical damage. Please read their briefing and submission to the Committee for further information. Standing Up To Domestic Abuse (SUTDA) also have produced an insightful report of their findings on the subject of non-fatal strangulation.
SafeLives supports the Disabilities Trust call for non-statutory guidance around assessing domestic abuse survivors for brain injuries and providing them with specialist support if injury is identified.
This submission pulls together views from organisations like Amnesty, EVAW, Imkaan and Southall Black Sisters to ensure that the Domestic Abuse Bill provides protection for migrant women.
We also produced a briefing on the particular issues faced by LGBT+ victims of domestic abuse in partnership with Galop and Stonewall.
SafeLives coordinated a letter from 6 Royal Colleges and additional specialist domestic abuse organisations to Matt Hancock calling for a greater role for health in the Domestic Abuse Bill. We need to open more avenues for survivors to access care, and with only one in five victims call the Police, it is vital that victims can access a non-criminal route to effective support.