Ahead of the Domestic Abuse Bill’s second reading in the House of Lords tomorrow (January 5), Barnardo’s talks about what needs to be changed in the Domestic Abuse Bill so it is fit for purpose.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said: “The trauma of domestic abuse can have a devastating impact on children’s lives and futures. The Domestic Abuse Bill, which is being debated by Peers today, is a unique opportunity to tackle this horrific crime and to make sure that all victims, including children, can access the support they need.
"However, as it stands, the Bill risks creating a two-tiered system - with adults and children living in refuges having access to specialist services, but the majority of victims who remain in the family home falling through the cracks.
"We know from experience that with the right support, children who experience domestic abuse can recover and go on to have a positive future. That’s why I'm urging the House of Lords to strengthen the Bill, by introducing a clear duty on public authorities to provide support for all victims, regardless of their age or where they live.”
Notes to editors
Proposed Amendment: ensuring support for everyone affected by domestic abuse. This proposal is supported by leading charities in the children’s sector, domestic abuse sector and Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG)
As currently drafted the Bill (Part 4) places a duty on local authorities in England to deliver support to victims, including children, in accommodation-based services e.g. refuges. However, by excluding community-based services the Bill risks creating a two-tier system where the majority of victims (nearly 70%), including children, who remain at home and will not receive support through this duty. Additionally, as the duty only applies to accommodation-based services, we are concerned it could have unintended consequences of diverting funding from community-based services to ensure the duty is met.
By restricting the scope of the duty to only apply to local authorities and cover accommodation-based support alone, the Government is missing a crucial opportunity to provide a holistic response to domestic abuse and improve the provision of community-based services. It is vital that community-based services are placed on the same statutory footing as accommodation-based services. We believe the current duty should be broadened to:
• Place a duty on all relevant public authorities to commission specialist domestic abuse support services for all persons affected by domestic abuse. This would go further than the current duty as it would:
o Provide support to all victims and survivors, including children, no matter where they live and regardless of their status, through community based and accommodation based services, including specialist services. This would enable support for prevention, early intervention and late intervention.
o Provide programmes for perpetrators to prevent re-offending.
o Apply to all relevant public authorities as domestic abuse services are commissioned by a range of agencies, not just local authorities, such as Police and Crime Commissioners.
• Barnardo’s published a report entitled Not Just Collateral Damage in February 2020. It looks at the potential long-term effects of domestic abuse on children if they do not get specialist support. It is available to read here: https://www.barnardos.org.uk/sites/default/files/uploads/'Not%20just%20collateral%20damage'%20Barnardo's%20Report_0.pdf