Victims’ and Domestic Abuse commissioners make joint request to Government

The Victims’ Commissioner and the Domestic Abuse Commissioner have written jointly to the Government to request the progress of the Domestic Abuse Bill be delayed.

The letter which was sent from Dame Vera Baird QC and Nicole Jacobs to the Home Secretary and the Lord Chancellor, recommended that progress of the Bill is delayed citing the fact that two key reviews have not yet been completed and that those working in the domestic abuse are in the midst of coping with a sharp increase in demand for support from victims as a result of the lockdown.

The internal reviews into domestic abuse provision for migrant women who do not have recourse to public funds, and the operation of the family courts, both fall within the remit of the Bill.

In the letter Dame Vera and Ms Jacobs wrote: “The Home Office is currently undertaking a review of how migrant women with domestic abuse provision. We do not know when the review will be completed, and its findings made available. The Bill is the appropriate place to address this issue.

“The second internal review relates to the family courts. Last summer the Ministry of Justice set up the Family Courts Panel to review the operation of the courts. It was due to report back at the end of 2019… Should [the Panel] make recommendations for statutory change the Bill is the appropriate vehicle for making such reforms.”

The commissioners feel it is important the outcomes of these reviews are obtained before the legislation is shaped further.

And both were referenced by the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland MP during the Bill’s second reading debate yesterday (28 April).

Dame Vera and Ms Jacobs also raised concerns about the effect of the current Coronavirus pandemic saying: “The domestic abuse sector is under huge pressure to deliver during the lockdown.

“Demand for services in increasing and is likely to continue to do so. Many in the sector have waited a long time for this Bill and are keen to participate in the deliberations over the coming weeks.

“It would be regrettable if they were prevented from participating due to the fact they are totally focused on providing critical frontline services during a national emergency.”

The second reading of the Domestic Abuse Bill can be watched here (the debate starts at 2pm). The Bill now moves on to the Committee Stage.