Merseyside’s Deputy Police Commissioner has welcomed the draft Domestic Abuse Bill published today, but has warned ministers that sufficient resources need to be provided to ensure victims get the support they need.
Cllr Emily Spurrell was responding to the release of a range of new measures designed to protect domestic abuse victims, in particular long-awaited legislation which bans abusers from personally cross-examining victims in family courts.
Emily said: “A lot of the legislation contained within this draft bill is long over-due and desperately needed. Victims have suffered enough without being forced to relive their experiences at the hands of their perpetrator in what will already be an incredibly pressurised situation.
“I welcome the introduction of these special measures to protect victims, as well as the greater focus on raising public awareness of domestic abuse, protecting victims and steps to ensure victims are better supported through the criminal justice system. This includes the introduction of Domestic Abuse Protection Orders, which will see those found guilty of breaching an order faced with a criminal penalty, ensuring they know how seriously these offences are taken.
“While many of the measures introduced are beneficial, they have taken far too long to be implemented. Theresa May promised to overhaul domestic abuse laws nearly two years ago and the public consultation on this bill closed eight months ago.
“Domestic abuse needs to be a national priority and that means sufficient, sustainable resourcing needs to be invested in providing care, support and places of safety for survivors. Far too many women are still being turned away from specialist services and refuges. We have seen today that the social cost of domestic abuse in 2016-17 was estimated to come to £66bn, more than the amount causes by alcohol and drug misuse, cigarettes and obesity combined. This draws into stark attention the funding that needs to be invested. I hope ministers will take note and ensure proper investment is provided to make this bill work and make a real difference to survivors.”