Domestic Abuse Bill needs cash injection

New legislation targeting domestic abuse is likely to have precious little impact if not accompanied by significant additional money, the Law Society of England and Wales warned today in response to a parliamentary inquiry.

“Sadly, domestic abuse is still a widespread problem throughout England and Wales - particularly for women - and costs the UK economy an estimated £66 billion a year,”* said Law Society president Christina Blacklaws.

“The bill has the potential to change millions of lives but without a significant cash injection, legislation alone is not enough to end domestic abuse.”

The draft bill contains several key measures against domestic abuse such as:

  • the inclusion of children aged 16 and 17 in the statutory definition of domestic abuse
  • the recognition of economic abuse as a form of domestic abuse
  • prohibiting the cross-examination of domestic abuse victims by their abuser, and
  • the appointment of a domestic abuse commissioner

According to Women’s Aid, over four hundred referrals to refuges in England are declined every week and an average of two deaths a week occur due to domestic abuse.**

“Cuts to frontline services and the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) have had a devastating effect on the support available to victims,” said Christina Blacklaws.

“Refuges are turning away hundreds of women every week and, due to legal aid criteria around shared property ownership, domestic abuse victims can find themselves both ineligible for legal aid and without housing.

“For the draft domestic abuse bill to be effective in its protection of victims, the government must put the necessary funding into legal aid, support services and policing and give domestic abuse victims the access to justice they so deserve.”

Notes to Editors

*A Home Office research report estimates that domestic abuse costs the UK economy £66 billion annually.

**Research by Women’s Aid shows that an estimated 21,084 referrals to all refuges in England were declined in 2017/18, averaging over 400 referrals declined each week.

**Research by the Office of National Statistics, cited by Women’s Aid, shows that on average two women a week are killed by their partner or ex-partner in England and Wales.

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