New Clause 15 - Children as victims of domestic abuse

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 6th July 2020.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Chair, Committee on Standards, Chair, Committee on Standards, Chair, Committee of Privileges, Chair, Committee of Privileges 7:00 pm, 6th July 2020

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman, who has been a doughty advocate for those who have suffered from brain injuries, not least because of his own experience. That has been invaluable to the House.

The Disabilities Trust’s work, and work that has been done with male prisoners across the estate, was the result of a pilot scheme introduced by the Ministry of Justice. It has been very effective. It is very simple screening —just three simple questions are asked of prisoners arriving. Nevertheless, it has enabled people to rectify some of the problems within the prison—for instance, prisoners who, because of their brain injury, find loud noise, clanging, smashing and things like that to be very disruptive to them. They have, very simply, been able to be put down at the quiet end of the prison. Sometimes, very simple measures have transformed the experience of those individuals and the likelihood of their reoffending, and given them a better opportunity in life.

That is writ even larger when it comes to women prisoners. The evidence is clear that many of the women coming into prison have been victims of domestic violence themselves, so the victim ends up being victimised a third time. All my new clauses are designed to ensure, first, that every single woman coming on to the prison estate is screened—a very simple screening, involving three questions, as has already been done in Drake Hall—and secondly, that every woman coming on to the prison estate who it has already been decided is a victim of domestic violence should be screened for brain injury, so that we can give such women the proper neurorehabilitation they require, so that they can understand the condition they have and lead a fuller life.

I was disappointed by the Minister earlier. I am sure she did not intend to mislead the House, but she said that the national screening agency—I think she means the National Screening Committee—considered screening, when in fact the committee considered screening every single adult in the country for domestic violence. That is not what we are talking about here. I hope she will correct the record when she winds up the debate.