SafeLives’ response to the Justice Committee’s pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Victims Bill

Today the Justice Committee published a report on its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Government’s draft Victims Bill, warning that it will not deliver unless there is an enforceable duty on police, prosecutors, courts and other agencies to uphold the Victims’ Code and deliver victims’ rights.
We welcome many of the Committee’s findings and recommendations.


We have long known the immense value of Idvas (Independent Domestic Violence Advisors) and the work they do to support survivors to safety, so we are pleased to see the Committee recognise these roles as specialist and vital, alongside other forms of support, whilst acknowledging that current caseload numbers are unsustainable and further funding is imperative.
We know Idvas can play a crucial role in supporting victims of domestic abuse through the justice system, so it is encouraging to see the Committee’s recommendations that guidance should set out the right of Idvas to support victims in court (with a presumption that they should have access).

Community-based services

Community-based organisations (rather than accommodation based ones, for eg in refuges) support at least 70% of domestic abuse survivors who use a specialist domestic abuse service. The huge social value of these services cannot be overstated.

Someone who has experienced abuse has the right to stay where they feel most comfortable, which may well be in their own surroundings, safely, with the right support at the right time.

Alongside many others, we have long campaigned for community-based services to be funded in line with accommodation-based services, and have repeatedly made the case for this duty to include new commissioning requirements. We are pleased to see the Committee recommends the duty be strengthened to require commissioning, alongside multi-year funding.

We are pleased to see the recommendation to include families bereaved by homicide in the definition of ‘victim’ and therefore subject to the provisions of the Bill and Criminal Justice System. More than 100 families a year are bereaved through domestic homicide and their voices must be heard.

We support the Committee’s clear recommendation of a firewall between police and immigration enforcement to allow victims and survivors to safely report without fear of deportation.
We welcome the Committee’s call to strengthen the role of the Victims Commissioner, including retaining oversight of the Victims’ Code at a national level. The Commissioner role must be supported by Government to provide that crucial, independent scrutiny and advocacy for victims.

We urge the Government to heed the recommendations in this report, with a better enforced Victims Code at the centre of their approach. The Victims’ Bill is a crucial opportunity to support all victims of domestic abuse, improving on decades of victim experiences in a justice system which has sidelined and minimised their role. We must not let this opportunity slip through our hands.

Draft Victims Bill Policy Paper 

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