To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what progress his Department has made on implementing the recommendations from its report of June 2020, Assessing Risk of Harm to Children and Parents in Private Law Children Cases; and what approach his Department plans to take on to cases decided prior to full implementation of those recommendations.
We are making good progress against the commitments outlined in our Implementation Plan that was published alongside the ‘Assessing Risk of Harm to Children and Parents in Private Law Children Cases’ report.
Changes were brought in as part of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, including automatic eligibility for special measures in the Family Court, the prohibition of cross examination of victims by perpetrators or alleged perpetrators, and a clarification of the law on the use of section 91(14) orders in domestic abuse circumstances. The special measures provision is already in force and the remaining measures are expected to be commenced later this spring.
We are currently undertaking a review into the presumption of parental involvement and its risk of harm exception, in private law children cases. The research for this review is expected to be complete by the end of the year. In February we launched the Integrated Domestic Abuse Court (IDAC) pilot to test a more investigative approach to private law proceedings in courts in Dorset and North Wales.
On 26 March 2021, we launched the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme, which offers up to £500 towards eligible mediation cases, encouraging people to resolve their disputes outside of court where safe and appropriate to do so. We allocated £3.3m throughout the 2021-22 financial year, helping 6,726 families in the period to mediate on issues around their children. As of 24 April 2022, 7,916 vouchers have been distributed, and we will be making an official announcement on funding for the 2022-23 financial year shortly.