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Commissioners issue joint call for community-based support services in Domestic Abuse Bill

In a joint statement, the Commissioners write that without the amendment the Domestic Abuse Bill "risks creating a two-tier system" leaving victims without appropriate support.

This statement first appeared in a Barnardo’s press release.

The Victims’ Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, the Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, and the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, are jointly calling on the government to include a statutory duty on local authorities to fund community-based services in the Domestic Abuse Bill.

The Commissioners have backed an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill, which would mean public authorities would have a statutory duty to commission support in the community for all victims of domestic abuse – including children. Peers in the House of Lords are set to debate the amendment as it continues through Committee.

As it stands, the Bill includes a statutory duty to only support victims if they are in refuges and supported accommodation.While this support is welcome, there is a risk this will create a two tier system, with the majority of victims who remain in the family home not qualifying for this protection, and potentially not receiving the support they desperately need as a result.

In a joint statement, the Commissioners say:

“It is vital that the government takes this once in a generation opportunity to ensure that all victims of domestic abuse – including children living in these abusive households – have access to local protection and support by including community-based services in the Domestic Abuse Bill’s statutory duty.

We know that the majority of victims stay in the home and access community-based services rather than domestic abuse refuges. It is therefore clear that without a duty to commission community-based support, including specialist services, the Bill risks creating a two-tier system, which would leave most victims – including children and migrant victims – without appropriate support.

A statutory duty that includes community-based services will mean this Bill provides support which is inclusive and accessible to all. It is also vital that these community services are provided to children who experience abuse, or display abusive behaviours, in their own relationships. If the Domestic Abuse Bill is to be the truly transformational, landmark piece of legislation that the government proclaimed it to be, then we need to see this change.”