New Clause 15 - Children as victims of domestic abuse

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:45 pm on 6th July 2020.

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Photo of Christian Wakeford Christian Wakeford Conservative, Bury South 7:45 pm, 6th July 2020

I was proud to support the Bill on Second Reading, and am happy to see it back here today for its final stages.

This is a landmark piece of legislation, which shows the best of this House; we can work cross-party to achieve something fundamental. If I were to have one criticism, it would be that the Bill could achieve so much more. That said, this is an admirable start and one that I fully endorse. However, the Bill needs to be the starting point for protecting victims, not the destination.

I pay tribute to my hon. Friends the Members for Newbury (Laura Farris) and for Wyre Forest (Mark Garnier), and to Ms Harman, for securing the amendment on rough sex—new clause 20— which will prevent men from literally getting away with murder.

This needs to be a victim-led process. There are concerns about a stalkers register that means that the victims need to correct their behaviour; that cannot be right. If a victim has to modify their behaviour, then we have let down the victim. I am hopeful that the Minister will agree that there is scope to review victim support services, and that victims should be included in that process. Despite the good intentions of stalking protection orders, I fear that they will not protect victims in the way that they should.

This truly is a heinous crime. If not prevented, it can and often does lead to further crime, such as sexual abuse and even murder. My hon. Friend Jess Phillips mentioned the murder of Jane Clough. I am a long-standing friend of her sister, Louise Berry, who tragically lost Jane 10 years ago. It would be remiss of me not to pay tribute to John and Penny Clough for the fantastic, tireless work that they have done with the Justice for Jane campaign to prevent other women from paying the ultimate and avoidable cost of this crime. I also pay tribute to Andrew Stephenson for securing an amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 that allowed the prosecution to appeal against bail, to further aid victims of this awful crime.

I conclude by reiterating my opening remarks. If we are serious about tackling this most heinous of crimes, which has affected millions of women throughout recent years, we really need to ensure that the victims are fully included in the entire journey, and that this is a journey. This is not the destination; it is just the start of the process to ensure that we tackle this crime fully. In doing so, we need to ensure that adequate funding is in place, not only to bring the perpetrators to justice but to protect victims in their entirety. I trust that the Minister will continually review the matter, and take further action where needed to truly support victims of this most awful crime.