Home Office pledges £3.1m to help children ahead of second reading of Domestic Abuse Bill

The Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales Dame Vera Baird QC has welcomed the financial boost to support children affected by domestic abuse announced by the Government but has urged ministers to go further and by introducing legal protections for children as the Domestic Abuse Bill progresses through parliament.

The Home Office has announced it is to make £3.1m available for specialist services for children who have both been directly and indirectly affected by domestic abuse.

It came ahead of second reading of the Domestic Abuse Bill which took place yesterday (28 April) afternoon.

The new funding will be split between local authorities, children’s charities and Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales.

Reacting to the announcement Dame Vera said: “Children are not witnesses to domestic abuse which goes on in their own home, they are victims of it, as this allocation of funding rightly recognises. And as such they should be entitled to the full range of victim support services.

“I welcome the funding and I hope that the government will enshrining this principle in the Domestic Abuse Bill. Nothing less will do.

“It is long overdue that we realise how profoundly damaging domestic abuse is to all of its victims can be to all of its victims – adults and children.”

Earlier this month Dame Vera published a report entitled Sowing the Seeds which explored the overlap between children’s experience of domestic abuse and children’s offending behaviour.

The findings of the report suggested this is a long-term issue; children who are exposed to domestic abuse are not casual bystanders and the evidence suggests impacts will be huge and far reaching.

Dame Vera continued: “I am calling for children who experience domestic abuse to be recognised in statute as victims of crime. I want to see targeted interventions and support to help these children and young people recover from domestic abuse.”

As well as give children legal protection there are other elements Dame Vera would like to see included in the Domestic Abuse Bill.

These include:

  • Better protections for migrant women who currently have no access to public funds;
  • Making non-fatal strangulation as specific offence;
  • Ending of the “rough sex” defence; and
  • Making threatening to disseminate intimate images a specific offence.

She added: “This legislation is the chance for us to redefine how we as a society respond to domestic abuse, by protecting victims and sending a clear message to perpetrators. It is a once in a generation opportunity – we need to get it right, and not just get it through,” she concluded.

Watch the debate here – it begins at 2pm.