Cumbria’s police and crime commissioner says he is concerned that the new Domestic Abuse Bill – due to be passed into law today – may create a two-tier system to help victims.
The Domestic Abuse Bill will create a new statutory definition of domestic abuse, making it clear that children are also victims in their own right.
The bill, which will be debated in the House of Lords today, also introduces a duty on local authorities to deliver support to adult and child victims of domestic abuse in accommodation-based services.
But crime commissioner Peter McCall, said it may have unintended consequences for specialist community-based domestic abuse services, such as Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDSVAs) and dedicated therapeutic counselling services, that help the vast majority of adult and child survivors who never move into a refuge.
He said: “We know how crucial specialist community-based domestic abuse services are in providing support to survivors.
“It is disappointing that community-based services are not provided for within the bill when 70 per cent of victims who use services do so in community-based settings.
“While it is heartening to see the proposed statutory duty for accommodation-based services, like refuges, there are concerns that this could create a two-tier system of provision for domestic abuse victims.
“I’m urging the Government to ensure that both accommodation-based and community-based services are provided for, so that each person affected by domestic abuse can access the help that best meets their individual needs, no matter where they live.
“We need to do all we can to help victims become safe and recover.”
Ahead of the upcoming debate in Parliament, Mr McCall is calling on the Government to build on the hugely important steps already being taken to tackle domestic abuse, and to support a cross-party amendment which would make sure the bill provides for vital community-based domestic abuse services.