SafeLives responds to the Government’s response to the Victims Bill pre-legislative scrutiny report

Ellen Miller, Interim Chief Executive of SafeLives said:


We welcome the Government’s response to the Victims Bill pre-legislative scrutiny report and their acceptance of some of the Justice Select Committee’s recommendations.

We are pleased to see the inclusion of a statutory definition for the Independent domestic abuse advisor which enshrines the essential independence of this role, putting Idvas on a firmer footing and creating consistency and quality assurance across agencies and local areas.

However, it is disappointing that the need for an information-sharing firewall between police and immigration enforcement departments has been rejected.  Fear of deportation is a real barrier to migrant victims of domestic abuse reporting their experiences and seeking help, and we know that perpetrators of domestic abuse weaponise this fear against their victims.

We will continue to seek safe reporting mechanisms for migrant survivors of violence against women and girls.

We welcome the Government’s £8.5m two-year funding package for services run by and for marginalised victims of domestic abuse, and the statutory duty in the Victims Bill for local agencies to collaborate in the commissioning of community-based services.

However, we remain concerned this doesn’t go far enough to ensure that vital, community-based, specialist support services are available for everyone who needs them.  70% of survivors of domestic abuse access community-based services, which alongside perpetrator interventions are a crucial part of providing a joined-up response to the whole family. 

We believe the duty to commission together with a multi-year funding package should be included within the legislation to ensure these life-saving community-based services can be developed and provided in a sustainable way.  At present the support available is a postcode lottery because there is no standardisation, even for victims at the highest risk of serious abuse and harm, and support is declining despite the growing number of victims, with very few police areas now operating with sufficient Idvas to meet recommended safe caseload levels.

We now need to see this legislation improved and introduced to Parliament as soon as possible, and we need to see the detailed accompanying guidance so it is clear that the expectations on police and public bodies are meaningful, and we can see genuine improvements in the experiences of victims and survivors.