Women’s Aid statement on Domestic Violence and Abuse Act
Friday 17th February 2017
Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said:
“It is very welcome news for survivors of domestic abuse that the prime minister is planning to legislate for a step change in response to domestic abuse. There is scope to make the legal framework surrounding domestic abuse clearer and more comprehensive; survivors desperately need an approach across all agencies that genuinely responds to their needs, and helps them to truly recover. As home secretary, domestic abuse was a clear priority for the prime minister – and it is great news that she is now determined to continue that commitment. There is still a great deal of work to do to raise awareness and improve understanding of domestic abuse – particularly coercive control – and we welcome the prime minister’s intention to tackle this.
“We call for this legislation to provide a strategic and overarching framework for all agencies and services that support survivors of domestic abuse: a framework that has a needs-led response at its heart. The Domestic Violence and Abuse Act is an opportunity to move away from the current system of short-term risk management, and towards a system that can guarantee change that lasts – long-term safety and independence for survivors. We know the current system is not working. It is a postcode lottery as to the type of response from agencies a survivor might get, or the type of support they can access. This needs to be addressed.
“We also want to see the future of the services that protect and support survivors of domestic abuse and their children – such as refuges – being guaranteed. 17% of refuges have closed between 2010 and 2014 and currently, refuges across the country are at risk of closure if their model of funding changes in 2019. With two women a week on average being killed by a partner or ex-partner in England and Wales, we cannot afford to lose any more of our vital refuges. All survivors must be able to access domestic abuse support when they need it – no matter where in the country they might be.
“The prevention of domestic abuse must be a key focus of the new legislation. Educating children and young people on forming healthy relationships should be central. We must educate in order to challenge a culture that allows and condones violence against women. If we do not, we will never drive the cultural change we need to keep women safe.
“A co-ordinated approach to domestic abuse has the potential to transform the experience of survivors of domestic abuse. We look forward to working alongside the government to bring survivor voices into the heart of this legislation, to ensure that it is truly responding to their needs.”