Amendment 149

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill - Committee (5th Day) – in the House of Lords at 9:00 pm on 8th February 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Hayman Baroness Hayman Crossbench 9:00 pm, 8th February 2021

My Lords, given the excellent speeches that have already been made in support of these two amendments, I can be brief in supporting Amendment 149. The noble Baronesses, Lady Lister and Lady Burt, and the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, have all made a cogent case for aligning the definition in Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 of those to be protected from coercive control with the much better and wider definition in the current Bill, so that victims of coercive control are protected post separation.

As I said at Second Reading, my interest in this issue arises from my experience as patron of a domestic abuse charity in Norfolk which helps support women and men who have left abusive relationships to rebuild their lives and their confidence. The work it does has made me very aware of the destructive effect ex-partners can have, even from a distance and long after separation.

Together with that experience, as others have said, I am grateful for all the briefing we have received from various organisations and charities. My particular gratitude goes to Cassandra Wiener from the University of Sussex, for having so clearly set out the way coercive and controlling behaviour, particularly—but not exclusively—economic abuse, can continue after the abusive partner has left; indeed, how the act of leaving itself can be a trigger for increasing the abusive behaviour, as the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, so powerfully described in his very brave and moving speech.

The argument that the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 is the appropriate way to deal with a problem that the Government themselves recognise is simply not acceptable. Earlier, reference was made to the need to beware of adding baubles to a legislative Christmas tree. This amendment is no bauble. It goes to the roots of this legislation: the aim that we should provide comprehensive protection for all victims of all forms of domestic abuse from all types of that abuse. I urge the Government to support it.