Victims and Prisoners Bill becomes law

The Victims and Prisoners Bill has completed its passage through Parliament as part of the ‘wash up’ process ahead of the general election period.

We welcome this legislation finally becoming law. We know many victims have waited years for this moment. However, there is still much more to do to ensure all victims of domestic abuse can access the support they need to become safe and to recover.

We are eager to see the vital role of the Idva (Independent domestic violence advisor) and Isva (Independent sexual violence advisor) properly recognised in accompanying statutory guidance.

Survivors of domestic abuse repeatedly tell us how much they value the support of an Idva. In consultation on the bill, Idvas and Isvas were the most highly scored form of support. These professionals are domestic abuse specialists and they do crucial work every day to support families to reach safety, recover from trauma, and rebuild their lives.

We are pleased that clause 15 of the Victims and Prisoners’ Act 2024 maintains a requirement on the Secretary of State to issue guidance on the role of specified support services, including the training and qualification requirements those in the role must have.

Given the critical role they play in providing lifesaving support, Idvas and Isvas must be included in the statutory guidance that is brought forward for consultation. We look forward to working with the next Government to develop the detail of this statutory guidance.

We want to see implementation of the Act accompanied by proper investment in community-based services. The huge social value of these specialist services cannot be overstated – community-based organisations support 70% of domestic abuse survivors who use a service. We will keep calling for a duty on local areas to provide community-based services, so more survivors have access to the support they need without having to uproot their life and their children’s lives by leaving their home. The statutory guidance accompanying the “duty to collaborate in exercise of victim support functions” must also encompass the full range of community-based services – including quality-assured perpetrator interventions with specialist, separate, but parallel, support for victims – to ensure that the Act is as effective as possible in increasing both the immediate and long-term safety of adult and child victim-survivors.

Where victims of domestic abuse do seek a criminal justice outcome, it is vital that their rights are at the centre of the response. We welcome the steps taken to strengthen the Victims’ Code to ensure victims are aware of their rights, and encourage the next Government to guarantee that relevant agencies receive mandatory training on the contents and application of the code.

However, whilst this legislation will improve the experiences of many victims, we are disappointed that some survivors have been left behind.

An information-sharing firewall would have enabled survivors with insecure immigration status to safely report domestic abuse. We will keep calling for migrant and refugee victims to have equal access to life-saving services.

We look forward to working with the next Government to ensure we transform the response to domestic abuse, so victims who remain in the home, victims with protected characteristics, victims with insecure immigration status – each and every survivor – has access to dedicated support to help them reach safety, recover and rebuild.  

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