SafeLives respond to Government’s launch of Victims’ Bill consultation

We welcome the consultation on the upcoming Victims’ Bill today and are pleased to see a focus on the needs of specialist services run ‘by and for’ marginalised groups, and a recognition of the specific needs of children and young people who experience domestic abuse, as well as funding for specialist Idvas and Isvas. 

Throughout this consultation, it is vital that the Government listens to the voices of survivors and provides ample opportunities for them to share their expertise, co-create solutions and continue their work in pushing for change. 

This is an opportunity to build on current work to support adult and child victim-survivors of domestic abuse and challenge perpetrators’ behaviour. The Victims’ Bill must form part of a pan-Government approach to domestic abuse and VAWG that goes beyond the criminal justice system and focusses on a co-ordinated response to the whole family, to make them safe sooner.  

We are disappointed the consultation doesn’t commit to a statutory duty for community-based services at this stage, though welcome the invitation to provide proposals on better multi-agency working to improve the response.  We will continue to make the case for statutory provision, working in coalition with frontline services and other national organisations to call for the Government to do this, in line with the accommodation-based duty in the Domestic Abuse Act.   

We know community-based organisations support 70% of domestic abuse survivors who use a service. Providing a full spectrum of services is the right thing to do – providing every opportunity to allow survivors to stay connected to their mortgage, job, friends, family, GP, school and wider life after harm has occurred, rather than having to relocate and leave all this behind, alongside the vital emergency support provided by accommodation-based services. With the right provisions in the Victims Bill, that is possible. 

We welcome further detail on the statutory underpinning of the Idva (Independent domestic violence advisor) role which was raised by Ministers in the Rape Review. We are especially pleased to see the Government’s recognition of the crucial role Idvas can play in supporting victims of domestic abuse through the justice system, and the need for all involved in the Courts to better understand that. Idvas and victims’ advocates must not be prevented from supporting their clients in court: today’s green paper consultation is a step in the right direction.