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Domestic Violence

Volume 600: debated on Monday 12 October 2015

Tackling domestic violence is a key priority for this Government. We have created a new offence of domestic abuse, we are making improvements to the police response and this year provided over £20 million to fund specialist domestic and sexual violence services, national helplines and refuges.

What steps will the Minister take to improve the witness testimony experience of survivors of domestic abuse through special measures, which may increase reporting and conviction rates?

We are looking through the refreshing work we are doing in our whole violence against women and girls strategy and we are considering how we can make sure the victim experience is such that victims are treated with the dignity and respect they need. We are working with the Ministry of Justice to make sure that happens.

Does my hon. Friend agree that forced marriage is a particularly iniquitous and hidden form of domestic violence that is going on in this country at the moment, and will she look at funding for the forced marriage unit, which is doing excellent work in the Foreign Office to try and protect young British girls from being married off against their wishes?

I have visited the FMU, which is a joint Home Office and Foreign Office unit. It does excellent work and I know that its outreach programme is getting to those girls who may be victims of forced marriage and making sure this does not happen.

23. Does the Minister support the HeForShe campaign which many world leaders have signed up to as impact champions, and will she encourage her own party colleagues, including the Prime Minister, to sign up to help end discrimination and violence towards women? (901503)

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. Could she perhaps provide more information about that campaign? We support many campaigns and I would like to find out more about that one.

Will the Minister join me in supporting the work of citizens advice centres across the UK and their Talk about Abuse campaign, a national campaign to help friends and family members to support the victims of domestic abuse?

I attended the launch event of that excellent Citizens Advice campaign, which has already helped me with a case in my own constituency, in which I was able to refer someone to the citizens advice bureau to get the specialist and expert support that they needed.

Reports of domestic and sexual violence are increasing across the country. However, in an attempt to deal with the relentless Government cuts, local authorities and the police are stopping specialist abuse support to victims and instead providing generic services or no services at all. Will the Minister commit to ensuring that everyone, regardless of gender, sexuality or ethnicity, feels safe and supported in their home?

I welcome the hon. Lady to her place on the Front Bench and I look forward to working with her. We have worked together on a number of previous campaigns and I know that she will be excellent in her new role. As I have said, the Home Office is refreshing its violence against women and girls strategy, and part of that involves looking at commissioning and local commissioning to ensure that those specialist services, which she rightly says victims need to get the support that they require, get the funding that they need.