Domestic Abuse Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 2nd October 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Conservative, East Worthing and Shoreham 4:45 pm, 2nd October 2019

As with so much to do with child safeguarding, getting it wrong is the most expensive thing.

We need to do much more work on prevention. We should task the Domestic Abuse Commissioner with looking at not just how we respond and making sure that perpetrators are locked up, but how we can prevent it in the first place, and better education in schools about what constitutes an appropriate relationship is an important part of that.

I want to make a few other quick points. Proper funding of refuge places, which has been promised by the Government, is essential. There was still a shortage of refuge places last year. It is not just a question of money, though; technical factors are also impeding the availability of urgently required beds. Women without children who are fleeing violence and who seek safety in refuges are not automatically considered to be in priority need of housing. I have been told by refuges that in some cases women are staying in hostels for several years, which is again a false economy, when they could be in independent housing, living safely with their children. We also need to give children who are living in refuges priority access to schools, as we have done for children in care and adopted children.

We have to look holistically at the issue. It is not just about better funding for refuges; it is also about making sure that we have better services across the board, including specialist domestic abuse service providers, child support workers, outreach workers and especially better joined-up working for women fleeing out of local authority areas when they have to go to a refuge. We need a network of refuges across the country.

This is a fantastic Bill. It can be improved. It is long overdue. Let us not ruin it by making it too complicated.