New Clause 15 - Children as victims of domestic abuse

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:45 pm on 6th July 2020.

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Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women 8:45 pm, 6th July 2020

If I may, I will make some progress.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley in particular raised new clause 24, and she urged us to act on this—we are doing so. Alongside publishing the family harms panel report, we published the Government’s implementation plan for that report. The Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend Alex Chalk, is acting on the advice of the panel, which gave careful consideration to the issue of the presumption of contact. The panel concluded that an urgent review of the presumption should be undertaken—it did not conclude that we should legislate immediately. My hon. Friend is beginning this work. He is convening the Family Justice Board this month, and we hope and anticipate that this work will be completed by the end of the year. We share the sense of urgency, and we will act on it.

Yvette Cooper, the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, raised new clauses 32 and 33, and new clause 21 has also been raised during the debate. On new clause 21, there was compelling testimony from several witnesses who gave evidence in Committee against the introduction of a separate register, as proposed in new clause 21, because that might diminish, rather than increase, safety. However, we are very conscious of the concerns that the right hon. Lady and others have raised.

We continue to work to keep the effectiveness of risk management processes under regular review, as well as to modify the processes in accordance with emerging evidence and good practice. For example, the College of Policing is testing a revised domestic abuse risk assessment process, with a view to rolling out an improved model across all police forces. Individual forces are also trialling enhanced risk assessment models, and there will be an evaluation of the new stalking protection orders as well. So there is work to be done, and we will very much keep it under review.

My right hon. Friends the Members for Romsey and Southampton North (Caroline Nokes) and for Basingstoke both raised important cases of threats to disclose—indeed, my hon. Friend Ruth Edwards raised this as well—and we very much understand their concerns. Threats to disclose, regardless of the connection between the offender and the victim, can in many circumstances already be captured by a range of offences. However, the Law Commission is conducting a review of the law relating to the non-consensual taking and sharing of intimate images with a view to assessing the currency of the law. In the meantime, we are working with the College of Policing to ensure that the police have all the information they need to make the right charges and arrests, where appropriate.