Calls for the Government to strengthen its forthcoming bill on domestic abuse, provide enhanced funding for refuges and create a new stalkers register have been supported by Merseyside’s Deputy Police Commissioner today.
Cllr Emily Spurrell has welcomed the release of a Home Affairs Committee report into Domestic Abuse today which, following a short inquiry into the Government’s proposed strategy, urges ministers to introduce legislation which provide more support for victims and widen the scope of its reforms as a matter of urgency.
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner was one of only two Commissioners across England and Wales to submit written evidence to the inquiry, which included a number of recommendations, many of which have been taken on board within the report. The report echoes the evidence submitted by the Police Commissioner in calling for:
- Sufficient and longer term funding for the provision of refuges for victims of domestic abuse;
- Greater recognition of the impact domestic abuse can have on children and young people;
- Changes to the justice system to make it easier for victims to give evidence and proceed with cases when a victim is not willing to give evidence.
The committee’s report said an urgent solution had to be found for the 90 women and 94 children turned away from refuges each day, including a review of current funding levels and legislation that forced local authorities to provide emergency refuge places.
Other recommendations within the report, including the introduction of a national register of serial stalkers and domestic violence perpetrators, a consultation on introducing paid domestic violence leave for victims and an end to single Universal Credit Payments, have also been supported by the Deputy Commissioner.
Cllr Emily Spurrell said: “Far too many women who have suffered at the hands of an abusive partner are currently being further let down by a welfare system which makes it harder for them to leave their abuser and by a government which is failing to appropriately fund safe accommodation for victims or recognise the needs of thousands of vulnerable women and their children.
“It is a national disgrace that nearly 200 women and children are being refused a safe place to sleep every single day because of a lack of bed spaces. Urgent action is needed to ensure there is enough refuge accommodation for every woman who needs it and their children.
“I welcome this report from the Home Affairs Committee which urges the Government to strengthen and expand its current bill on Domestic Abuse. This report lays out a number of straightforward measures the government could adopt which would make a real difference in the lives of thousands of victims. I urge ministers to pay close attention to it and heed the advice of the Committee.”
Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, Rt. Hon. Yvette Cooper MP said: “Domestic abuse is one of the most dangerous and most common crimes there is. Millions of people are affected each year, and two women a week die at the hands of a partner of ex. The Government is rightly proposing new legislation and a new strategy, but our inquiry found much stronger action is needed across the board.
“Shockingly, many refuges are turning away 60% of their referral due to a lack of space. We urgently need more refuge places – provision should be a requirement on local authorities, backed by national ring-fenced funding.”
Read the full submission from Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner here or take a look at the full report by clicking here.