Last Updated: 25 January 2019
Created: 22 January 2019
North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson has welcomed the Government's ground-breaking new Domestic Abuse Bill.
It is estimated that 2 million adults a year experience domestic abuse, roughly 6% of the adult population. The new Bill aims to support victims & their families, and change the way offenders are pursued. It will also address the less visible signs of domestic abuse such as; financial abuse, coercive control, and manipulative behaviour.
To help tackle the crime, new legislation will:
- introduce the first ever statutory Government definition of domestic abuse to specifically include economic abuse and controlling & manipulative non-physical abuse - this will enable everyone, including victims themselves, to understand what constitutes abuse and will encourage more victims to come forward
- establish a Domestic Abuse Commissioner to drive the response to domestic abuse issues
- introduce new Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to further protect victims and place restrictions on the actions of offenders
- prohibit the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in the family courts
- provide automatic eligibility for special measures to support more victims to give evidence in the criminal courts
Between the draft Bill and its consultation response, the Government is making 120 commitments to tackle domestic abuse, including:
- £8 million of Home Office funding to support children affected by domestic abuse
- a new crisis support system for those with no recourse to public funds
- additional funding and capacity building for services for disabled, elderly and LGBT victims
- updated support, training and guidance on economic abuse
- new and additional training for job centre work coaches, police, social workers and probation staff to help them recognise and effectively tackle abuse
- improved support for victims in the family court
- additional £500,000 funding for provisions for male victims
The Bill has been welcomed by a number of charities which support survivors of domestic abuse, including: Refuge, Women's Aid, Save Lives and Surviving Economic Abuse.
Justin has campaigned on this issue for many years; working with Swindon’s Women’s Aid to highlight the issue, and bring attention to the important work the charity does to support survivors of this terrible crime.
Last month Justin chose Swindon Women’s Aid for his Christmas Gift Appeal, and opened up his office as a drop-off point for gifts to families in the local refuge. He also had a meeting with the Swindon branch to discuss the work it does locally and provide an update of the work the Government is doing to support those who have experienced domestic abuse.
As the Minister for Family Support, Justin has been working to help the Department build a compassionate and effective system, keeping the welfare of vulnerable service users at the heart of everything. This includes ensuring that Job Centre staff are trained to identify and support victims of domestic abuse, as well as putting in place measures to support victims of abuse as much as possible – such as rapid advance payments for those fleeing domestic violence.
Justin Tomlinson MP said: “Domestic abuse is a shocking crime, and this Bill shows our commitment to supporting survivors and bringing abusers to justice. Non-violent domestic abuse can have devastating effects on its victims, and I am delighted the Government is working to ensure everyone understands this and empower more people to report this type of behaviour."
Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said: “The Domestic Abuse Bill has the potential to create a step change in the national response and this must be backed up with sustainable funding for our life-saving network of specialist support services to make a real difference to survivors’ lives. We look forward to working with the government, our member services and survivors themselves to make sure survivors have the resources and support they need, as well as address the root causes of domestic abuse so that every woman and child can live free from fear and abuse.”