SafeLives' response to the Queen's Speech

21st June 2017

We are hugely encouraged to hear about the 'radical overhaul' of legislation and the introduction of a Domestic Violence Act, announced in the Queen's Speech today.

This legislation needs to create a sense of urgency and focus about holding perpetrators of abuse to account across both the criminal and family courts. 

It is morally reprehensible that we continue to put the onus and responsibility on the survivor to change their home and community, asking 'why doesn't she just leave?' while we leave the perpetrator to continue unchallenged, unchanged and continuing to cause harm to their ex/partner and children – as well as their future partners.

In order to help families and individuals stay safe at home, we need the police and courts to have the right legislation and training to hold the perpetrator responsible for the harm they are causing. If a perpetrator is dangerous, they should expect to feel the full impact of the law, rather than us asking the survivor and children to hide.  

Fewer than 1% of perpetrators receive any specialist intervention to change. This is not good enough. We hope that the new legislation will help us get to the root of the problem: the perpetrator. This is is imperative if we are to protect people today and reduce the levels of domestic abuse tomorrow. 

Our approach has always focused on reducing the risk posed by the perpetrator, but in a way that puts the survivor's voice and needs at the heart of every decision. We can only reduce domestic abuse if we reduce the number of perpetrators. That takes a whole system response, given only 1 in 5 victims of abuse ever calls the police. We hope, however, that this new legislation will go some way to making this a reality.