The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee has published its Report into Domestic Abuse.
The report is a response to the Government’s announcement in the Queen’s Speech of June 2017 that it intended to introduce a Domestic Abuse Bill and its subsequent publication of a consultation paper in March 2018.
Whilst the Committee welcomed the Government’s commitment to developing a domestic abuse strategy and the preparation of a draft bill on domestic abuse, it made a number of recommendations to widen the scope of the Bill and strengthen its provisions including:
Widening the scope of the Bill to be a Violence Against Women and Girls and Domestic Abuse Bill, which the committee felt would facilitate a more effective, joined-up and cross-Government strategy to tackle both domestic abuse and violence against women and girls.
Introducing a national register of serial stalkers and domestic violence perpetrators.
Ceasing to make single Universal Credit payments to the main carer by default, which the committee regarded as “a particularly retrograde and damaging step” which makes it harder for victims to leave or to avoid economic abuse and control. Instead, split payments for couples should be the standard.
Addressing the insufficient bed-space in safe accommodation for victims of domestic abuse by placing a statutory obligation upon local authorities in England and Wales to provide emergency refuge places.
According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics, nearly 2 million people in England and Wales were victims of domestic abuse in the year ending March 2017, making it one of the most common, and most dangerous, crimes in the country.
The Chair of the Committee, Rt. Hon. Yvette Cooper MP, commented:
Access the full Report here, or the Conclusions and recommendations here.
"Domestic abuse is one of the most dangerous and the most common crimes there is. Millions of people are affected each year, and two women a week die at the hands of a partner or ex. The Government is rightly proposing new legislation and a new strategy, but our inquiry found much stronger action is needed across the board."