SafeLives’ response to draft Victims Bill: we must not miss this crucial opportunity to support all victims of domestic abuse

We welcome the draft Victims Bill published today and look forward to engaging with the Justice Committee during pre-legislative scrutiny, and with Parliamentarians as the Bill progresses, to ensure that this legislation supports all victims of domestic abuse.

We know the value of Idvas (Independent domestic violence advisors) and the life-saving work they do to support survivors of domestic abuse every day, so we warmly welcome the Government’s recognition of the importance of these domestic abuse experts to victims and survivors. We are pleased to see the Bill’s commitment to providing a statutory definition which will allow Idvas to advocate for their clients across multi-agency settings and ensure survivors’ voices are heard, while still leaving room to develop the various specialisms which exist across the domestic abuse sector and for further evolution of this crucial role. We also look forward to further detail and discussions around the non-legislative measures announced today.

We are hopeful that the duty on Local Authorities, PCCs, and health bodies will improve integration in commissioning community-based services for victims of domestic abuse. We know that 4 in 5 survivors do not call the police, so the involvement and investment of the public sector beyond criminal justice bodies is vital.

Community-based organisations support 70% of domestic abuse survivors who use a service. The huge social value of these specialist services cannot be overstated. Alongside many others, we have long campaigned for community-based services to be funded in line with accommodation-based services, so we are disappointed to find this duty does not include new commissioning requirements.

Domestic abuse frontline services tell us funding for community-based services is often on a less sustainable and secure footing than accommodation-based services. The Victims Bill is a crucial opportunity to ensure that every victim of domestic abuse and sexual violence can access the support they need to become safe and to recover.
We will continue to make the case for the statutory duty to include the commissioning of community-based services for all adult and child victims, including specialist support led ‘by and for’ D/deaf and disabled, LGBT+, older, Black, Asian and racially minorities, and migrant and refugee victims, as well as challenging perpetrators to change.

We would like to see the requisite funding provided for this alongside the Bill. Community-based services must be available to respond to and support all members of a family who need help, in a way that’s appropriate for them and no matter what their situation, geography and characteristics.
We want the Government to support the right of someone who has experienced abuse to stay where they feel most ‘at home’, which may well be in their own surroundings, safely, with the right support at the right time. With the right provisions in this Bill, that is possible.

Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s statement 

Draft Victims Bill Policy Paper 

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