Domestic Abuse Bill – support for victims and survivors
Members of the House of Lords will be debating the passing of the Domestic Abuse Bill into law today, Monday 8th March. The Bill will create a new statutory definition of domestic abuse, making it clear that children are also victims in their own right.
The Bill also introduces a duty on local authorities to deliver support to adult and child victims of domestic abuse in accommodation-based services. This is vitally important and will do much to ensure that those impacted by domestic abuse have the lifeline of safe accommodation if they need to flee.
However, Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall, along with organisations right across the domestic abuse and children’s sectors that specialise in supporting survivors of domestic abuse, has expressed concerns regarding the potential of the legislation to have unintended consequences for specialist community-based domestic abuse services, such as Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDSVAs) and dedicated therapeutic counselling services, that help the vast majority of adult and child survivors who never move into a refuge.
Peter McCall comments: “We know how crucial specialist community-based domestic abuse services are in providing support to survivors.
“It is disappointing that community-based services are not provided for within the Bill when 70% of victims who use services do so in community-based settings.
“While it is heartening to see the proposed statutory duty for accommodation-based services, like refuges, there are concerns that this could create a two-tier system of provision for domestic abuse victims.
“I’m urging the Government to ensure that both accommodation-based and community-based services are provided for, so that each person affected by domestic abuse can access the help that best meets their individual needs, no matter where they live.
“We need to do all we can to help victims become safe and recover.”
Ahead of the upcoming debate in Parliament, the Police and Crime Commissioner is calling on the Government to build on the hugely important steps already being taken to tackle domestic abuse, and to support a cross-party amendment which would make sure the Bill provides for vital community-based domestic abuse services too.