Dame Vera Baird "really pleased" by government move to consult on community-based domestic abuse services as part of the Victims Law consultation

This statement first appeared in a Barnardo’s press release on 8 March, along with statements from Lord Polak, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Action for Children, End Violence Against Women, NSPCC, Safelives and Charlie Webster.

The Victims’ Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, has welcomed the news that the government has committed to consult on the provision of community-based domestic abuse services.

Writing in a letter to Lord Stuart Polak, the government said that it will be consulting on community-based domestic abuse services this summer as part of its Victims Law consultation.

The Domestic Abuse Bill currently includes a statutory duty to support victims in refuges and supported accommodation. While this support is necessary, most victims who remain in the family home would not qualify for this protection.

The Victims Commissioner, Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Children’s Commissioner, Barnardo’s and others have all previously issued support for Lord Polak’s amendment, which would have seen community-based domestic abuse support services placed on the same statutory footing as those in refuges and supported accommodation. It would have done this by introducing a duty on relevant public authorities to commission specialist domestic abuse support for all victims, including children, and ensure high-quality perpetrator programmes.

But writing to Lord Polak, Baroness Williams of Trafford – the Minister of State for Countering Extremism – said: “Your amendment is admirable in its desire to take a holistic approach to ensuring that adult and child victims of this terrible crime receive the support they need, no matter where they reside, and that perpetrators can access programmes to address their behaviour. The Government shares these ambitions and recognises the vital role that community-based services play in supporting victims.

“I can confirm that the Government will consult on the provision of community-based domestic abuse services in the upcoming Victims’ Law consultation. The Victims’ Law consultation will take place this summer and represents a seminal opportunity to examine these issues thoroughly.”

Responding to this announcement, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, Dame Vera Baird QC, said:

“I am really pleased to see the Government recognise the vital role that community-based services play in supporting victims and I welcome the government’s commitment to consult on the provision of these services as part of the upcoming Victims Law consultation.

“I am also delighted to see the government set out a timeline for the long-awaited Victims Law consultation. I look forward to hearing more detail on this in due course.

“We know that refuge accommodation is hugely important, but the majority of victims stay in the home and access community-based services. We need to ensure that all victims of domestic abuse – including children living in abusive households – have access to local protection and support in their own communities. I look forward to working with the government on this consultation to ensure just that.”