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Domestic Violence

Volume 542: debated on Monday 19 March 2012

The Government’s updated action plan for our strategy to end violence against women and girls was published on 8 March. We have ring-fenced nearly £40 million of stable funding for specialist local domestic and sexual violence support services until 2015. The plan also includes new actions to help to reduce domestic violence, including a one-year pilot to test a domestic violence disclosure scheme from the summer of 2012.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. On a recent visit to the Awaken team in Blackpool, I was told that there is a clear correlation between domestic violence against young girls in the home and future exposure to child sexual exploitation. As the Home Secretary builds her policy, will she bear in mind the importance of that correlation and ensure that she works on that with the Under-Secretary of State for Education, my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton), who has responsibility for children?

The Department for Education and the Under-Secretary specifically are represented on the inter-ministerial group on violence against women and girls, which I chair. I welcome the excellent work being done by the Awaken project in Blackpool. We support multi-agency approaches to tackling child sexual exploitation. Indeed, the child sexual exploitation action plan includes measures to ensure that the local safeguarding children boards lead on tackling child sexual exploitation locally with a variety of partners.

A study by Women’s Aid has shown that 230 women fleeing violence and seeking refuge were turned away from refuges in this country on a typical day last year owing to the lack of space. Does the Home Secretary agree that turning any woman away from a refuge is unacceptable, and will she give an assurance to the House that no woman seeking refuge from domestic violence will be turned away on her watch? Yes or no?

Of course we all want to ensure that women who find themselves having to flee from domestic violence are given the support that they need. It is not the case, however, that no woman was turned away from refuges in the past. However, we are taking a slightly different attitude to this issue in the domestic violence protection orders. One thing that has always concerned me is that the victim of domestic violence—all too often a woman—is often forced to leave the home while the perpetrator is able to stay in the home. The point of the domestic violence protection order is to ensure that more women suffering from domestic violence can remain in their own homes.