Domestic Abuse and Hidden Harms during Lockdown

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:00 pm on 14th January 2021.

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Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 1:00 pm, 14th January 2021

Yes. I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend for all the work he does on the Education Committee to scrutinise our work. We are all concerned about the welfare of the most vulnerable children. That is why, for example, in the first lockdown we enabled vulnerable children to still attend school, sending out the message to parents, carers and children and young people themselves that if they need that extra bit of help and support, schools are open to give them access to that. That continues under today’s restrictions, because schools are open to vulnerable children.

In terms of the work that we are doing over and above keeping schools open, I have already referred to the vital work that social workers are conducting and our efforts to increase the number of social workers available to help with that work. Some of our children’s charities have also been fantastic. I have seen for myself the work that Barnardo’s and the Children’s Society are doing to help children, particularly those who are potentially being ensnared by county lines gangs. This comes back to how we can reach these poor, poor children before those gangs really get their fists on them. It is about a combination of education at school, education and support for families—because mums, dads and carers can be very worried about their child—and ensuring that we have robust law enforcement measures in place against those gangs. One thing the police were able to do during the last national lockdown—the first one—was concentrate on targeting drug gangs. We are seeing some of the results of that work, alongside the safeguarding and early intervention work we are doing.